A Los Angeles woman pleaded guilty today in federal court in Sacramento to bankruptcy fraud in connection with a foreclosure rescue scheme that she ran.
Jewel Hinkles, also known as Cydney Sanchez, 63, was the founder and general manager of Horizon Property Holdings LLC in Beverly Hills. She was indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 1, 2011, along with Jesse Wheeler, 36, of Roseville, Cynthia Corn, 60, of Oakland and Brent Medearis, 46, of Modesto.
According to court documents, Hinkles was the founder and general manager of Horizon Property Holdings LLC in Beverly Hills. From 2008 through 2010, she offered a service called the "Save My Home" or "Homesaver" that promised to rescue financially distressed homeowners from foreclosure and reduce the principal on homeowner' mortgages. Horizon offered its program directly to clients and also through several layers of "affiliates", who promoted and sold the program to clients, mostly in Northern California.
Wheeler operated JW Financial Solutions in Roseville and Corn operated Property Relief! in South San Francisco, both as affiliates of programs created by Hinkle, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. Medearis worked out of Modesto for Corn.
Wheeler and Medearis pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud last month, and Corn is scheduled for trial Aug. 6.
The defendants allegedly told homeowners that they would save their residences from foreclosure by arranging for investors to purchase their existing mortgage at a discounted price, thereby reducing the homeowner's principal and monthly mortgage payments. To prevent foreclosure and defraud the existing lenders, the defendants allegedly filed fraudulent deeds transferring an interest of the homeowner's property to a fictitious entity call Pacifica Group 49/II. In many instances, they also field fraudulent petitions in bankruptcy court, often naming both the homeowner and Pacifica Group 49/II as the debtor. The purpose of the petitions, officials said, was to invoke the automatic provisions of federal bankruptcy law that bring to an immediate halt any foreclosure actions against a debtor's property.
Because the fraudulent deeds and bankruptcy petitions delayed foreclosure proceedings, the defendants were able to pretend that they were providing a legitimate service and continue to collect fees from defrauded homeowners. The scheme collected at least $4.9 million from more than 1,000 homeowners, including homeowners whose mortgages were owned by the Federal National Mortgage Association -- Fannie Mae -- and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. -- Freddie Mac.
According to the indictment, the defendants never arranged for purchase of a mortgage from any of the clients' lenders nor did they negotiate mortgage principal reductions for any of Horizon's clients.
Hinkles is to be sentenced Sept. 30.