Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: What stage are Vera Kuzmenko and others in regarding the case of mortgage fraud, Russian American ID theft and tax scams?
Submitted by: Edward, Sacramento
ANSWER: Vera Kuzmenko, a tax preparer, is one of more than 60 people who have been indicted in federal court in Sacramento in a mortgage fraud case.
According to federal court online records, she and several other defendants in the case are scheduled for a status conference Oct. 9.
The vast majority of the defendants are members of the local Russian American community, according to accounts in The Bee. Collectively, they are charged with defrauding several lenders of more then $16 million. All have pleaded not guilty.
A federal grand jury indicted Kuzmenko in May 2011, alleging that she recruited dozens of straw buyers and helped them fill out bogus loan applications.
She has denied personally handling any of the loans and property sales, and has blamed the problems on the lender.
The Bee reported in March that Internal Revenue Service agents had disclosed in federal court filings that they are looking into allegations of identity theft and tax fraud involving some of the people targeted in the mortgage fraud inquiry.