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Five Enter Guilty Pleas Related to Mortgage Lending

Five San Diego mortgage loan employees, who were netted in a national mortgage fraud sting in June, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and face a maximum of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt said Nov. 20.

A joint probe earlier this year by the Justice Department and FBI, called “Operation Malicious Mortgage,” led to more than 400 indictments of real estate professionals, including six employees of Creative Financial Solutions, a downtown mortgage brokerage in San Diego. A sixth employee remains at large.

The FBI analyzed 21 loans made by CFS from November 2005 to August 2006 and found that 18 of them had resulted in foreclosure. CFS loan officers sent loan applications to lenders for review and funding and, according to Hewitt’s office, the company received commissions and other kickbacks from lenders when the loans closed.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, five CFS employees admitted on Nov. 13 to closing mortgage loans totaling $16 million for unqualified borrowers by submitting false loan applications, bank statements and income documentation.

The employees received more than $550,000 in commissions on fraudulent loans, according to prosecutors.

Those pleading guilty in federal court in San Diego were: Rafael Santiago, 39, of Los Angeles, Abner Betech, 27, of San Diego, Said Betech, 32, of San Diego, Aviva Betech, 29, of San Diego, and Angel Armendariz, 27, of Chula Vista. Lucette Montane, 25, remains at large.

Sentencing is scheduled for April.

, Ned Randolph

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