Two men who allegedly used straw buyers to obtain $13 million in loans on nearly two-dozen properties in Arizona have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.
Tucson residents Frank Padilla, 36, and Carlos “Charlie” Bent, 35, were arraigned Aug. 24 and were being held in federal custody as flight risks, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
Between September 2004 and June 2006, Padilla and Bent allegedly approached the owners of 21 residential properties that had been on the market for some time without selling. The owners were told their properties were worth more than the listed price, and Padilla and others were hired as sales agents under “net listing” agreements allowing Padilla to keep sales proceeds above the asking price.
Padilla, Bent and others allegedly created fake documents — including false employment verifications, mortgage loan applications, bank statements and contractor’s licenses — to qualify the straw buyers for 23 loans (two of the 21 properties were sold twice). Prosecutors say Padilla cashed 32 checks from title companies totaling $1.3 million, while allowing many of the properties to go into default or foreclosure.
The conspiracy charges the two men face carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. A trial date of Oct. 17 has been set before U.S. District Court Judge Raner C. Collins.