Plea changes to guilty in $20m mortgage fraud case
Michael Prieskorn changed his plea to "guilty" today on federal charges, admitting he ran a massive mortgage fraud scheme that targeted dozens of residential properties in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Prieskorn, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and a second charge for sending $225,000 in proceeds from the fraud to a bank account he controlled. Sentencing guidelines for those crimes range from just over 11 years up to 14 years. Prieskorn has agreed to cooperate with investigators against other people involved in the conspiracy, which could allow a judge to take his sentence below the guideline level. He appeared before US District Court Judge Paul Magnuson this morning in St. Paul. Prieskorn answered "yes" to repeated questions about the scheme. He admitted that he and others intended to defraud mortgage lenders by lining up "straw" buyers for residential properties, putting money in their accounts to make them qualified buyers, and promising the straw buyers that they wouldn't have to make mortgage payments.