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Mortgage

Asset manager and mortgage servicer pleads guilty to $5M fraud scheme

Special servicer engaged in wire fraud, mortgage scheme

Max Wagenblast, 35, Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to steal over $5 million from his company, which was the second largest special servicer of commercial real estate mortgages in the United States.

According to the his plea, Wagenblast was employed as an asset manager for a Bethesda, Maryland company that was the second largest Special Servicer of commercial real estate mortgages in the United States.

As a special servicer, the company was responsible for administering defaulted commercial mortgage loans and the real estate securing foreclosed loans. The company performed this service on behalf of the Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit trust that held the mortgage loans on behalf of the certificate holders of the trust.

In its capacity as a special servicer, the company collected borrower payments and property cash flow and remitted them to the REMIC trust, which was responsible for distributing those funds to the certificate holders. Wagenblast oversaw both the loans and properties that acted as security for the loans serviced by the company, including the application and utilization of funds generated by the properties he managed.

Wagenblast admitted that he redirected a portion of the funds collected from the properties he managed into the bank accounts of three limited liability companies he controlled. Those redirected funds should have been sent to the company and then forwarded to the REMIC trust bank accounts.

Wagenblast obtained these funds in three ways: by sending fake invoices to the property managers and directing them to wire the funds for payment into one of the bank accounts Wagenblast controlled; by creating fake service contracts and again directing the property managers to wire the funds for payment into one of the bank accounts Wagenblast controlled; and by sending the property managers an e-mail requesting that all wires in excess of $10,000 be sent to a bank account Wagenblast controlled.

The company conducted a search of Wagenblast’s work computer and found documents detailing the fraudulent activity, including a spreadsheet detailing each diverted funds transaction that listed the amount taken, the property from where the funds originated, the date of the transaction and the bank account into which the funds were directed.

From September 2012 through September 2013, Wagenblast caused over $5 million to be wire transferred into bank accounts he controlled

Wagenblast faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for wire fraud.

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