Florida Title Company Owner Indicted in Fraud Scheme

November 16, 2010

A part owner of a Florida-based title company has been charged in a mortgage scheme resulting in the approval and disbursement of more than $500,000 in mortgage loans.

The indictment alleges Catherine Maiz, a part owner of Absolute Title, LLC, submitted false information to the lenders to induce them to fund loans on two transactions.

The three-count indictment released by Wifredo Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, also names Yvette Gonzalez Valdes; her daughter, Jeannine Valdes-Perez; her brother Joseph Gonzalez; and her son-in-law Victor Perez,

According to the indictment, Perez was the listed borrower for both properties, bought within nine months of one another. Best Mortgage Choice LLC, a former mortgage brokerage firm owned and operated by Valdes-Perez, was the broker for each property transaction. Valdes, Valdes-Perez, Gonzalez, and Perez prepared and submitted fraudulent mortgage loan applications to the lenders, which included materially false information regarding Perez’s employment, income, assets, intent to live in the property and other information necessary to induce the lenders to approve the loans.

The indictment further alleges that Maiz also submitted false information to the lenders to induce them to fund the loans. For one of the property transactions, Maiz submitted a letter to the lender falsely claiming that her company had received a $17,000 deposit being held in escrow.

For the other deal, Maiz, together with Gonzalez-Valdes, Gonzalez, and Perez, allegedly prepared and submitted a false HUD-1 to the lender that did not reflect the true nature of the transaction. Among other things, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement falsely indicated that Perez brought more than $26,000 to the closing, when, in fact, he did not bring any money the closing. Gonzalez-Valdes, Gonzalez, Perez, and Maiz prepared a second HUD-1, which was never disclosed to the lender, stating that Perez was not required to pay any money at closing.

After the loans were funded, Perez did not make the required payments on the loans, and each went into default. The defendants diverted property and proceeds from the fraudulently obtained loans for their own use and benefit.

The defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349 and 1343. If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph B. Shumofsky.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.