United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: LAUREN HORWOOD
Thursday, June 10, 2010 PHONE: 916-554-2706
Docket #: 2:09-CR-00037 MCE
VALLEJO SISTERS PLEAD GUILTY TO MORTGAGE FRAUD
SACRAMENTO – United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that Ralondria Stafford, 36, and Necole Ward, 31, both formerly of Vallejo, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr., to Bank Fraud.
According to court documents, from 2004 through 2006, Stafford and Ward, who are sisters, operated RN Realty, a real estate office located in Vallejo, California, from which they carried out a scheme to commit mortgage fraud by using straw buyers to purchase properties at inflated prices. The straw buyers were approached and offered $5,000 for the use of their names, credit histories, and financial information. The defendants represented to the straw buyers that the purchases would be in name only and that the properties would be repurchased by Stafford and Ward from the straw buyers in 6 to 12 months. With one of the straw buyers, the defendants signed a document called the “The $5,000 Deal,” with the terms of the straw buyer agreement.
In August 2005, Stafford and Ward sold a property in Vallejo, owned by Stafford’s husband to straw buyer “J.G.” “J.G.” received a loan based upon information contained in a fraudulent loan application prepared by Stafford and Ward and signed by the straw buyer. This application contained materially false information concerning the straw buyer’s income, employment, and the purpose of the purchased location as a primary residence. Attached to the application were falsified Internal Revenue Service W-2 forms and a lease agreement.
As a result of these false statements, a mortgage company funded a $475,000 loan to the straw buyer for the purchase of the property. Neither Stafford or Ward ever repurchased the property from the straw buyer. Public records indicate that one year after the sale, in August 2006, the property was foreclosed upon and resold for approximately $400,000.
In April 2006, Stafford and Ward sold Ward’s house in Vallejo to straw buyer “C.S.” A mortgage company funded a $1,000,000 loan to the straw buyer for the purchase of the property based upon information contained in a fraudulent loan application prepared by Stafford and Ward and signed by the straw buyer. This application contained materially false information concerning the straw buyer’s income, employment, and the purpose of the purchased location as a primary residence. Among the false representations on the application were the fact that the straw buyer had a monthly salary of $6,000 and earned $13,000 in rental income; neither of these statements were true.
On April 17, 2006, a title company wired $97,279.00 to Ward. This money represented Ward’s equity in the property and her profit from the sale. Ward directed that this money be deposited into accounts controlled by Stafford and Ward and that it be disbursed to pay Ward’s creditors.
Neither Stafford or Ward repurchased the property from the straw buyer. Public records indicate that eight months after the sale to the straw buyer, the property was sold in a foreclosure sale for approximately $800,000.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge England on August 26, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. The maximum statutory penalty for Bank Fraud is 30 years imprisonment, a $1,000,000, a term of supervised release of five years, and a special assessment of $100. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is the product of an extensive joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Reardon is prosecuting the case.