Palm Beach County Residents Charged with Mortgage Fraud

Lawfuel- R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Michael E. Yasofsky, Jr., Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Don B. Saxon, Commissioner, Office of Financial Regulation, and Alex Sink, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Financial Services announced that defendants Berry Louidort, Lauren Jasky, and Ralph Michel, of Palm Beach County, were charged in a Criminal Complaint filed in federal court on April 22, 2008. The defendants were arrested earlier today and are expected to make their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Linnea R. Johnson on April 24, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. The defendants are charged with bank fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1344.

According to the Complaint, defendants Louidort, Michel and Jasky were involved in a sophisticated sub-prime mortgage fraud scheme in South Florida through which they submitted false qualifying information regarding potential borrowers to mortgage lenders. Among the false information the defendants submitted were false verification of earnings and false verification of deposits. As a result of these false submissions, defendants Louidort and Michel received approximately $6 million in loan proceeds.

This investigation began with an audit conducted by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation into 24 sub-prime mortgage loans in the period November 2006 to June 2007. The initial audit showed that the loans included what appeared to be excessively large fees paid to defendants Berry Louidort and Ralph Michel. The fees, ranging from $29,000 to $650,000, were described as marketing and/or assignment fees. In reality, the fees were kickbacks to defendants Louidort and Michel based on inflated sales prices. The audit also revealed that the majority of the suspect loans were originated by defendant Lauren Jasky, Senior Vice President of Compass Mortgage Services, located in Boca Raton, Florida.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum term of incarceration of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

This prosecution is the result of the efforts of the Palm Beach County Mortgage Fraud Task Force. This Task Force is composed of federal and state law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs – Office of Inspector General, the United States Probation Office, the Office of Financial Regulation, the Department of Financial Services, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of Financial Regulation, the Department of Financial Services and the members of the Palm Beach Mortgage Fraud Task Force in this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lothrop Morris.

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