DENVER – 15 September – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Bill…

DENVER – 15 September – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Bill Leone, United States Attorney for the District of Colorado, Rebecca J. Kiser, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for Housing and Urban Development, and Terry L. Stuart, Special Agent In Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office, announced that Lakewood real estate agents WILLIAM E. MENDEZ, age 40, and CLAUDIA M .MENDEZ, age 33, (aka the Mendez Team), were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver yesterday on charges of wire fraud related to the falsifying documentation in order to illegally obtain home loans for people who did not qualify. Also named in the second superseding indictment were BENEDICTA GOMEZ, age 48, of Denver, for preparing the false documents for the bogus loans. Both WILLIAM and CLAUDIA MENDEZ were arrested today without incident. GOMEZ will receive a summons.

Including today’s superseding indictment, the United States Attorney’s Office has obtained 12 indictments, many unrelated, charging 84 defendants with various types of mortgage lender or buyer fraud since early 2003.

According to the indictment, between July 2000, and November 2002, the defendants operated and/or worked at the Mendez Team real estate agency in Lakewood, Colorado. WILLIAM MENDEZ and CLAUDIA MENDEZ, and others who have been indicted previously, assisted home buyers, whom they knew to be illegal aliens or otherwise unqualified to obtain loans backed by FHA mortgage insurance, in preparing and completing loan applications containing false information. In the process, BENEDICTA GOMEZ prepared false tax returns designed to allow the home buyers to obtain loans backed by FHA mortgage insurance.

Once the fraudulent applications and false documents were prepared, the defendants and others caused them to be submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It was then part of the scheme for WILLIAM MENDEZ to compensate his employees acting as real estate agents by paying them approximately half of the commissions earned from the fraudulent transactions. The indictment includes a criminal forfeiture count, where, if convicted, the defendants will be required to pay $80,654.45, which constitutes the traceable proceeds derived from the criminal activity.

WILLIAM MENDEZ faces 32 counts of wire fraud, and 8 counts of money laundering. Twenty nine of the wire fraud counts carry a penalty per count of not more than 5 years in federal prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, or two times the gain or loss, or both. Three counts of the wire fraud carry a penalty per count of not more than 20 years in federal prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, or two times the gain or loss, or both. He also faces 8 counts of money laundering, which carries a penalty per count of 20 years in federal prison, or a $500,000 fine.

CLAUDIA MENDEZ faces 12 counts of wire fraud, 11 of which carries a penalty per count of not more than 5 years in federal prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, or two times the gain or loss, or both. The twelfth count of wire fraud carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, or two times the gain or loss, or both.

BENEDICTA GOMEZ faces 6 counts of wire fraud, all which carry a penalty per count of 5 years in federal prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, or two times the gain or loss, or both.

The United States Attorney’s Office has devoted substantial time, energy and resources into prosecuting mortgage fraud,” said United States Attorney Bill Leone. “For the last two and a half years our office has quietly worked its way from buyers who lied on their mortgage applications all the way up to the real estate agents and mortgage bankers who participate in the fraud.”

“Every year, fraudulent real estate schemes victimize individuals and businesses from many walks of life, including struggling low-income families lured into home loans they can’t afford, legitimate lenders saddled with over-inflated mortgages and honest real estate investors fleeced out of their investment dollars,” said Terry L. Stuart, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation Division. “Through federal tax fraud investigations and money laundering charges, the Internal Revenue Service is playing a key role in the fight against real estate fraud” said Stuart.

This case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD OIG), and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS CID).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Kirsch. These charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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