Co-conspirator in Mortgage Fraud Scheme Sentenced to Prison

Faces restitution of approximately $78,000 to be paid to victims

Los Angeles – One of three men involved in a mortgage fraud scheme in Yucca Valley, California was sentenced yesterday in the United States District Court in Los Angeles for participating in a money laundering conspiracy in connection with a mortgage fraud and identity theft scheme.

Mohamad Esmail, 33, of Corona, California, was sentenced to serve 6 months in federal prison, 12 months home confinement with electronic monitoring, and 3 years of supervised release by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.

According to his plea agreement, in early 2006, Esmail purchased three homes in Yucca Valley, California, and purchased the homes at the request of his brother-in-law, co-conspirator Jubran Dighlawi.

In September and October 2006, Esmail sold the three Yucca Valley homes at inflated prices. The named buyer of the homes was Yousef Mohamed, however, co-conspirators Jubran Dighlawi and Ata Dighlawi purchased these homes. Esmail knew that Jubran Dighlawi and Ata Dighlawi had full control of all aspects of the transactions.

Esmail received payments, which were the purported profits of the inflated home sales, from escrow companies located in the Central District of California. The escrow company sent these funds to a bank account in Esmail’s name. Esmail knew that these payments represented the proceeds of fraudulent mortgage loans obtained from federally insured lenders.

Esmail entered into an agreement with co-conspirator Jubran Dighlawi to use Esmail’s bank account in order to route money obtained from the fraud scheme to co-conspirator Jubran Dighlawi. As part of the scheme, Esmail: (a) sent wire transfers from Esmail’s bank account to a bank account in the name of the wife of codefendant Jubran Dighlawi; and (b) withdrew cash from Esmail’s bank account for delivery to co-conspirator Jubran Dighlawi or to accounts that Dighlawi controlled under other names.

Esmail acknowledged that the purpose of these financial transactions was to conceal and disguise the source, nature, ownership, and control of the funds. He also acknowledged that he laundered $78,605 in proceeds from the mortgage transactions as part of his agreement with co-conspirator Jubran Dighlawi. Esmail will be ordered to pay restitution of that amount.

Co-conspirator Jubran Dighlawi, was previously indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, loan fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. Jubran Dighlawi is currently a fugitive.

Ata Dighlawi, who pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, loan fraud, and aggravated identity theft, is scheduled for trial in March 2010.

Esmail is scheduled to surrender to federal custody to begin his prison term on May 17, 2010.

The investigation and prosecution of Esmail was conducted by IRS – Criminal Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Long Beach, California, in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

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