Lawyer takes plea in $30M federal mortgage fraud case
Posted Jan 15, 2013 12:40 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A Las Vegas lawyer has pleaded guilty to a felony bank fraud conspiracy charge concerning his role in a mortgage scheme that cost lenders $30 million, according to federal prosecutors.
Gerry Zobrist was accused of participating in a scheme in which federal authorities said banks were persuaded by misrepresentations to loan $53 million on 144 properties in the Las Vegas area. The purchasers were so-called straw buyers with good credit who were paid to lend their names to the transactions, according to the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Zobrist and his co-conspirators orchestrated the transactions. According to his plea agreement, they arranged to buy properties from homeowners; had the sellers make payments to third parties, including real estate companies controlled by the group, under the guise of attorney fees and other legitimate expenses; and then incorrectly reported to lenders how the funds were being disbursed at closing, the two newspapers recount.
Lenders eventually lost $30 million as the loans went into default and foreclosures resulted.
Zobrist is scheduled to be sentenced in April. The articles don't include any comment from him or his legal counsel.