Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Foreclosure Rescue Operator Gets Six Years In Sale Leaseback Scams That Ripped Off $880K From Lenders, Financially Strapped Homeowners

In Honolulu, Hawaii, KITV-TV Channel 4 reports:

  • A man who prosecutors say used religion to lure victims into a mortgage fraud scheme was sentenced to prison Thursday. John Mendoza, 59, was sentenced to six years behind bar. That's not enough says a woman who said she was lured into one of his deals, which he still claims were intended to save homes for people facing foreclosure.

  • "The only thing I can call this person is that he is a monster,” said Laura Cristo, who said Mendoza ingratiated himself by coming to her Waianae restaurant and praying with her and her family.


  • Federal prosecutor Clare Connors said Mendoza would talk distressed homeowners into selling their property in paper to his friends, on the promise they’d be able to buy the home back. Instead, Connors said, Mendoza kept hundreds of thousands in profits from refinancing the homes.


  • In court Thursday, Mendoza repeatedly mentioned his faith as he proclaimed his innocence and said he was only trying to help people. But U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright said the evidence was clear that Mendoza had used his faith to sucker in his victims, and then suck away the equity in their homes. “Mr. Mendoza operated with a clean intent to defraud, to benefit himself and hurt others.” Seabright said. “He used religion to spot and hood vulnerable victims.”

  • Despite his harsh words, Seabright sentenced Mendoza to the lower-end of federal guidelines. Mendoza will spend six years in prison. There is no parole in the federal system. After prison he will serve five years supervised release and must pay $881,514.98 in restitution to the former homeowners, one of whom recently died of cancer.


  • Mendoza told the court he plans to fire his publicly funded attorney and file an appeal. He complained that his attorney didn’t understand the sophisticated real estate transactions involved in the case. The judge replied that while the individual transactions may have been complex, taken as a whole, the jury correctly determined Mendoza’s intent was to steal the equity in the two homes and leave homeowners devastated.

For the story, see Foreclosure Fraud Defendant Gets Six Years (John Mendoza Continues To Deny Wrongdoing).

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