December 16, 2011
DENVER – After deliberating for less than 4 hours, a federal court jury found Vicki Dillard Crowe, aka Vicki R. Dillard, age 32, of Denver, guilty of mail and wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney John Walsh, FBI Special Agent in Charge James Yacone and U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Oscar Villanueva announced. Crowe pocketed close to $1,000,000 during the course of her fraudulent scheme. The jury trial, heard before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger, lasted approximately two weeks. During the course of the trial the government called over 50 witnesses. Crowe is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Krieger on March 19, 2012.
Crowe was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on April 5, 2010. According to the indictment, beginning in June 2004, and continuing through December 2006, Crowe knowingly devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud various financial institutions and commercial lenders and to obtain money and property from various financial institutions and commercial lenders by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises. The scheme was executed in connection with the residential mortgage loans related to 19 properties in Metro Denver.
As part of the scheme, Crowe worked with at least one mortgage broker to obtain mortgage loans in order to purchase the residential properties, at least two of which were purchased in the name of Crowe’s husband because Crowe was concerned that she would not qualify for the required mortgage loans. In order to qualify, Crowe made and caused to be made at least one materially false representation, including: 1) inflating or fabricating employment or rental income and/or assets of the defendant or her husband; 2) falsely representing defendant Crowe’s job title; 3) failing to disclose all the properties she had recently purchased; 4) failing to disclose all of her financial liabilities; and 5) falsely stating that the property would be a primary residence for the borrower.
As part of the transactions, Crowe persuaded, and caused someone else to persuade, the property seller to falsely inflate the sale price of the property so that Crowe could receive the inflated portion of the sale price as “up front” money, or shortly after, the closing purchase transaction. Sometimes the “up front” money was falsely characterized on a HUD settlement statement as a payment to the broker, although the broker would then pay Crowe the money. At other times, the “up front” money was falsely characterized as a payment to a remodeling company that was supposed to perform specified remodeling work, although the work was never performed, and Crowe actually received the money that was issued to these remodeling companies.
The indictment further alleges that Crowe used much of the “up front” money to make the mortgage payments on the numerous properties that she had purchased. She also refinanced mortgages on a couple of the properties so that she could obtain additional money as a result of the refinance transaction.
In order to qualify for the refinancing of the mortgages, Crowe made the same false statements about employment and income.
Crowe faces not more than 20 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine, for each of the 16 counts of mail fraud and wire fraud.
“Systematic mortgage fraud is a serious crime that played a role in compromising our economy in the 2008 financial crisis,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Today’s conviction demonstrates our continuing resolve at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, hand-in-hand with our law enforcement partners, to prosecute complex economic crimes to protect the integrity of our economy.”
“Today’s verdict is another example of an individual being held accountable for the type of fraud that has contributed to the decline in our nation’s housing markets,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge James Yacone. “We want to thank the jury for their service.”
Following today’s verdict, Oscar S. Villanueva, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division, said: “Postal Inspectors will continue to protect the integrity of the U.S. Postal Service and aggressively investigate individuals like Ms. Dillard who use the U.S. Mail to defraud businesses of money and property.”
This case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
Crowe is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pegeen Rhyne and Hayley Reynolds.
Mortgage fraud is a major part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wag an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.