White-Collar Crime

Lawyer takes plea in $30M federal mortgage fraud case

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.

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