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Americorp Co-founder to Admit Fraud
Richard A. Maize involved in $18.5M mortgage scam
LOS ANGELES -- (May 25, 2007) - A West
Los Angeles mortgage banker has agreed to plead guilty to
federal criminal charges in a massive mortgage fraud scam
that caused more than $18.5 million in losses to banks,
including his former employer.
This afternoon in United States District Court in Los
Angeles, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against
Richard A. Maize, 53, of Beverly Hills. Maize, a co-founder
of Americorp Funding, a mortgage banking company with
offices in West Los Angeles and Pasadena, was charged
with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and
loan fraud, three counts of bank fraud and one count of
making a false statement on a federal tax return.
In a plea agreement also filed today, Maize agreed to
plead guilty to the five felony counts and to cooperate
in the government's ongoing probe of the scheme (www.fbi.gov).
Americorp originated, brokered, funded and sold mortgage
loans. Maize was Americorp's top-producing mortgage banker,
closing more than $192 million in loans in 2001 and more
than $245 million in loans in 2002. Maize owned 45 percent
of Americorp until about December 2000, when he and his
partners sold Americorp to Prism Mortgage Company ( later
known as RBC Mortgage Company ). At that time, Maize became
the president of the Americorp division of a Prism/RBC
According to court documents, Maize and five others previously
charged in the case were involved in a wide-ranging and
sophisticated conspiracy to defraud federally insured
mortgage lenders out of tens of millions of dollars. As
part of the scam, the conspirators obtained inflated mortgage
loans on expensive homes in some of California's most
exclusive neighborhoods, including Beverly Hills, Bel
Air, Holmby Hills and Malibu.
Five people have previously been charged in the scam.
They are: oCharles Elliott Fitzgerald, 47, of Newbury
Mark Alan Abrams, 45, of Long Beach;
Nicole LaViolette, 37, of Palm Springs;
Jamieson Matykowski, 33, of Laguna
Timothy Holland, 35, of Santa Ana.
Fitzgerald, who is in custody, is scheduled to go on
trial on July 31 on a host of federal charges related
to the alleged scheme. The other four previously charged
have pleaded guilty to charges related to the fraud scheme
and are pending sentencing.
According to court documents, in late 1999 or early 2000,
Fitzgerald and Abrams started a mortgage brokering company
called Desert Pacific Financial, Inc. ( DPF ). The company
sent mortgage loan applications to lenders for review
and funding, and received commissions from those lenders
when the loans closed. In late 2001, Fitzgerald and Abrams
renamed the company Beverly Hills Estates Funding, Inc.
( BHEF ).
Fitzgerald and Abrams purchased homes at their real market
values. Abrams and his associates then recruited "straw
borrowers" to obtain the inflated loans that were
used to purchase homes from Fitzgerald and Abrams. The
straw borrowers allowed the conspirators to use their
names and credit to obtain mortgages as part of this "property-flipping"
process. Armed with inflated appraisals and other false
documentation, the conspirators submitted false and inflated
loan application packages. As president of Americorp,
Maize had contacts and business relationships with the
victim lenders, which he exploited to deceive the victim
lenders into approving and funding the inflated loans.
He also abused his position as president and defrauded
his employer, Prism/RBC, by deceiving the company into
funding the inflated loans.
As one example, the case against Maize details the purchase
by Fitzgerald and Abrams of a Bel Air home for $735,000.
When they flipped the property, they "sold"
the residence to a straw borrower for $2.37 million. A
bogus loan application package went to Lehman Brothers
Bank, and the bank unwittingly funded a loan of more than
$1.4 million on the property - nearly double the true
$735,000 purchase price - almost all of which ended up
in one of the in-house escrow companies controlled by
Fitzgerald and Abrams. According to the Maize charges,
Lehman Brothers Bank alone was deceived into funding about
40 such inflated loans from March 2000 through July 2002.
These 40 loans were for more than $28 million over the
true prices of the homes. According to court documents,
Maize received hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks
for his assistance in getting the loans approved. In 2001,
he failed to report more than $175,000 of these kickbacks
on his federal tax return.
Maize faces a maximum possible sentence of 98 years in
federal prison. In his plea agreement, Maize has agreed
to pay $2.75 million in restitution prior to his sentencing,
although he may be ordered to pay more at sentencing.
The charges against Maize and the others are part of an
ongoing investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau
of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation Division.
SOURCE: Department of Justice