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June 22, 2012

Five Defendants Plead Guilty In Mortgage Fraud Case

SAN FRANCISCO Hasina Safdari, Idriss Safdari, Josue Loayza, Thomas Gomez and Nicolas Munoz have pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and false statements, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. The charges arose out of numerous fraudulent loan applications submitted by Palm Tree Financial and Realty (Palm Tree), a mortgage brokerage company formerly located in Hayward, Calif. Hasina and Idriss Safdari owned Palm Tree, while Josue Loayza and Thomas Gomez were employed there as loan agents. Nicolas Munoz was a licensed tax preparer who submitted fraudulent letters to lenders on behalf of various Palm Tree borrowers, including Hasina Safdari.

In pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Hasina Safdari, Josue Loayza, and Thomas Gomez admitted that they agreed to commit wire fraud by knowingly sending mortgage lenders loan applications with fraudulent information as to the borrowers' income or assets. In pleading guilty to wire fraud, Munoz admitted that he was paid $200 to sign a fraudulent letter on the letterhead of his company, Professional Tax Services LLC, falsely stating that he had prepared Hasina Safdari's taxes for four years, knowing that the letter would be used to defraud the lender in connection with Hasina Safdari's purchase of a property in Dublin, Calif. In pleading guilty to a charge of false statements, Idriss Safdari admitted that he knowingly lied to agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation Division when they questioned him about his and Hasina Safdari's earnings from Palm, falsely stating that they had only earned approximately $70,000 per year in 2006 and 2007, when in fact they had earned several hundred thousand dollars more in that time frame.

In addition, Hasina Safdari agreed that the lender losses associated with her fraudulent conduct exceeded $1 million, and that she fraudulently obtained a loan of more than $1.2 million to purchase her property in Dublin. In a separate civil action, Nicolas Munoz agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting him from owning or operating any business involved in the preparation of federal tax returns or the provision of tax advice.

Hasina Safdari, 32, Josue Loayza, 30, Thomas Gomez, 29, and Nicolas Munoz, 38, were indicted by a federal grand jury in an eight-count indictment on July 21, 2011. The United States Attorney filed a felony information charging Idriss Safdari, 46, with false statements on June 21, 2012. Under their respective plea agreements, Hasina Safdari pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud; Idriss Safdari pleaded guilty to one count of false statements; Josue Loayza pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; Thomas Gomez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and Nicolas Munoz pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

All Defendants are out of custody and will be sentenced by Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco. The sentencings of Thomas Gomez and Josue Loayza are scheduled for Aug. 3, 2012 and Aug. 17, 2012, respectively; the sentencings of Hasina Safdari, Idriss Safdari, and Nicolas Munoz are set for Oct. 5, 2012. The maximum penalties for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349, and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343, are 20 years' imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss (whichever is greater), and restitution. The maximum penalties for false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001, are 5 years' imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. 3553.

Tracie L. Brown and Arvon Perteet are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rayneisha Booth. The prosecution is the result of a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigations Division.

Source: United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California

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