California man pleads guilty in $19 million mortgage scheme
A Sacramento man who engaged in a $19 million mortgage fraud scheme pleaded guilty to wire fraud and identity theft this week, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California. Christopher J. Warren, 29, is accused of defrauding now-defunct mortgage lender Taylor, Bean & Whitaker out of millions of dollars before fleeing to Beirut on a private jet. Taylor, Bean & Whitaker was the subject of another federal investigation that resulted in a court sentencing the former chairman of the Florida firm, Lee Farkas, to 30 years in prison for orchestrating a $2.9 billion mortgage fraud scheme. TBW, based in Ocala, Fla., originated, serviced and sold mortgages in pools to Freddie Mac. The lender got in trouble when executives tried to fill a financial void by selling mortgages that didn't exist, according to court records. That fraud was uncovered when the Special Inspector General of the Trouble Asset Relief Program discovered Farkas had filed a false application on behalf of a financial firm for a $553 million bailout. Warren's guilty plea stems from a 2009 indictment that claimed he defrauded TBW out of $7 million before fleeing the country. The plea deal covers the TBW claim as well as $12 million in losses tied to loans Warren handled while working at Loomis Wealth Solutions in 2007 and 2008. Warren was arrested trying to re-enter the country with a fraudulent passport and thousands of dollars stuffed in his boots. One of his co-defendants, Scott Cavell, is still at large, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He will be sentenced April 24 and faces up to 20 years in jail and a possible fine of up to twice the amount of losses he caused. Write to Kerri Panchuk.