The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida charged five defendants in an $8 million mortgage scheme after the conspirators acquired properties above the selling price, tricking lending institutions into handing over more than the properties were worth.

The defendants pocketed $500,000 in loan proceeds from the group of loans, the lawsuit claims.

The indictment charged the five defendants Jacinto Puentes, 53; Elinor Puentes, 52; Theodore Tarone, 43; Raul Salabarria, 55; and Rogelio Ramirez, 42; with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud through their use of the U.S. postal service in handling documents tied to the scheme.

The lawsuit contends the plaintiffs submitted loan applications with false information and supporting documents to obtain mortgages above and beyond the actual selling prices of homes acquired. One of the defendants, Rogelio Ramirez, is accused of using his former position as assistant vice president at Wachovia Bank to help submit false information on the 17 properties.

The defendants could face up to 30 years in prison for mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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