Police say financial crimes enterprise targeted region’s Hispanic community
© Prince William TimesA twenty-five count superseding indictment was unsealed today charging five defendants— including two Manassas men.—with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution and operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise. According to the indictment, between August 2005 and August 2007, the conspiracy generated nearly $7.4 million in fraudulent proceeds.
Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Fred W. Gibson, Acting Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, made the announcement.
The indictment alleges that two of the defendants,operated a real estate firm (Vilchez & Associates), a title insurance company (Pino Title), and the branch of a loan brokerage business (Mount Vernon Capital Corporation) in Manassas, Va., as a continuing financial crimes enterprise. According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators submitted fraudulent loan documents that falsified their real estate clients’ income, employment, and assets so that they could obtain loans to buy property through Vilchez & Associates, which received commissions of as much as six percent of the selling price of every home. Many of these transactions involved loans that allegedly were originated fraudulently by Lorene Chittenden, a loan officer who, according to the indictment, received thousands of dollars in loan commissions as a result of the fraud.
The indictment also alleges that the defendants targeted Hispanic clients who were not proficient in spoken or written English and who therefore often were unable to read and were unaware of the false statements made on the loan documents submitted to the lenders on their behalf. According to court filings, the fraudulent loan applications made it possible for the borrowers to qualify for loans they could not afford to repay. Most of these borrowers later lost their homes to foreclosure.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney James P. Gillis is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.