26 May – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Eileen J. O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General, Tax Division, United States Department of Justice; Brian J. Wimpling, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; William T. Sims, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service; and Broward County Sheriff Kenneth C. Jenne, announced today that Samantha Johnson and Scott Warren Johnson, of Parkland, Florida plead guilty to charges related to a wide-ranging mortgage fraud scheme. According to the Indictment in the case, Mary Jo Bellavia-Sabag and others, orchestrated a scheme whereby they fraudulently deeded residential properties in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to themselves, their aliases, and their nominee corporations. Fraudulent, and in some cases forged, quitclaim deeds were recorded in the public records in an effort to further the scheme. Mary Jo Bellavia-Sabag and others made money from the scheme by selling the fraudulently obtained properties to unsuspecting third parties or obtaining loans in fictitious names secured by the properties. These loans which ultimately ended up in default. According to the Indictment, Mary Jo Bellavia-Sabag and others obtained in excess of $3 million in property and funds from their victims. A large portion of the illegally derived income was not reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
Mary Jo Bellavia-Sabag pleaded guilty to one (1) count of money laundering and one (1) count of filing a false 2000 individual income tax return with the IRS that failed to report the proceeds from the fraud scheme. In addition, Bellavia-Sabag agreed to forfeit her interest in her Parkland home to the United States.
Bellavia-Sabag faces a statutory maximum sentence of twenty (20) years and a fine up to $250,000 or twice the amount of the money laundered on the money laundering count and she also face a statutory maximum sentence of three (3) years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine, on the false tax return charges.
Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the Internal Revenue Service, United States Secret Service, and Broward County Sheriff”s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tom Lanigan and Trial Attorney William J. Lovett, Tax Division, United States Department of Justice.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on .