Florida conspirators plead guilty in multimillion-dollar apartment scheme

Three Florida residents accused of using straw borrowers to purchase residential properties at inflated prices while lying to lending institutions pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

The defendants include mortgage broker Josephine Santana, 57; Jose Rafael Martinez, 36; and Basilio Gomez, 52; all of Miami-Dade County, according to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

The defendants are scheduled for sentencing on Oct 29 and face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for defrauding banks and lying to the sellers of luxury apartments about the homes’ actual sales prices.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges the conspirators used straw buyers to acquire residential homes at The Jade apartment complex on Brickell Bay Drive in Miami. The defendants submitted mortgage loan applications and documents containing false information to lending institutions, according to the DOJ. The lenders used the false information to provide loans for the straw buyers.

The scheme specifically involved the submission of false HUD-1 statements with inflated sales prices.

Meanwhile, the seller received a different set of HUD-1 statements with the actual sales price listed.The defendants allegedly diverted the mortgage fraud proceeds into shell companies for their personal use.

The three defendants were part of a larger conspiracy in which four other defendants have also been charged.

Other defendants include Andres “Andy” Mendez Sr., 47, of Miami-Dade County; Andres “Andy” Mendez Jr., 26, of Miami-Dade; Lilia Casal-Diaz, 42, of Coral Gables; and Ayadie Carmen Londono, a former real estate broker from Miami, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Those four parties were charged in June.

In addition, Raquel (Carrie) Martinez, 49, of Miami was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.

Defendant Jose Arnaldo Rosario, 55, of Miami-Dade was sentenced to 46 months in prison on Aug. 5 for his role in the scam. Rosario pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud.

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