A federal jury in Austin on Friday found a real estate broker guilty of fraud related to a real estate flip-for-profit scheme that cost mortgage lenders more than $15 million, media reports said.
After a weeklong trial, Mohammad H. Gharbi of Austin was found guilty of wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and faces up to 30 years in prison, reports said.
Gharbi was one of 25 real estate professionals and buyers indicted in 2004 in a sprawling case that accused them of buying dozens of homes using fraudulent documents and appraisals and then reselling them to associates, who secured mortgages to pay the artificially inflated prices, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The original buyer shared the profits with those involved, including the second buyer, who often defaulted on the loans, according to court records, the American-Statesman reported.
Eighteen of the defendants have pleaded guilty, many to misdemeanors, and none has been sentenced, according to reports.
The scheme’s suspected leader, Firooz Deljavan, and his wife, who was also indicted, are in a Turkish jail awaiting extradition, federal prosecutors told the American-Statesman. One other person is thought to have left the country and has not been found, according to reports.
Charges against one defendant were dismissed, another committed suicide, and charges are pending against another defendant, reports said.