Federal prosecutors have filed charges against 37 people and four businesses in the Chicago area in five separate mortgage fraud cases involving "scores of homes" and more than $48 million in allegedly fraudulent loans.

Defendants include a vice president of the title company, mortgage brokers, loan officers, real estate investors, appraisers and an attorney, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois said in a press release.

Prosecutors called one of the cases, United States v. Lisnek, et al., "one of the most comprehensive mortgage fraud schemes ever charged" in Chicago.

From 2002-07, prosecutors alleged, 15 defendants and four businesses were involved in the purchase of 70 homes that were made "camera ready" with cosmetic repairs to their exteriors and then resold at "fraudulently inflated" prices two to three times the purchase price. Lenders incurred approximately $5.8 million in losses after being forced to foreclose on the properties, prosecutors said.

Richard Lisnek, 56, a licensed mortgage broker and president of K&L Real Estate Inc. and American Eagle Mortgage Inc., was charged along with his wife, Judy Kien, 50, an attorney and president of D&J Properties II Inc., and 13 other defendants on suspicion of mail fraud and wire fraud in a 22-count indictment returned this week by a federal grand jury.

Other defendants include another mortgage broker, Alex Bulmash, 32, of Lincolnwood; real estate appraisers James Heiland, 63, Brandon Bradford, 37, and Vlad Ostromogilsky, 38; and LaSalle Title Co. and one of its vice presidents, Lynn Liskiewicz, 48, of Chicago.

Condo rebates

Another case, United States v. Askar, et al., involved seven condominiums and two penthouses in a 59-story luxury condo building, "Millennium Centre," in downtown Chicago. …CONTINUED

Defendants Mhde Askar, 23, and Mahmoud Saleh, 35, operated M&M Millennium Management Co., and participated in an incentive program offered by the building’s developer that provided rebates equal to up to three years of mortgage payments. The rebates did not have to be repaid if M&M sold the unit it received the rebate for within the three-year period.

Between July 2004 and December 2006, Askar, Saleh and their co-defendants are accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $17.2 million in loans used to purchase the nine Millennium Centre units. Askar and Saleh allegedly purchased the units in Askar’s name or in the name of straw buyers, pocketing the rebates and then reselling the units at increased prices to straw buyers through fraudulently obtained mortgages.

Luxury homes

Askar is also a defendant in a third case, United States v. Okulaja, et al., in which six defendants are accused of fraudulently obtaining $3.39 million in loans in a scheme involving the purchase and sale to straw buyers of two multimillion-dollar single-family homes in the affluent Chicago suburbs of Wheaton and Glenview.

Askar and Olanrewaju J. Okulaja, 29, are accused of helping to prepare and then submitting fraudulent loan applications to Countrywide Home Loans and Washington Mutual Bank that falsified the income, savings and funds for down payments of straw buyers.

Nonexistant loans

In a fourth case, United States v. Luckett, federal prosecutors are seeking to recover $15 million from Lawrence A. Luckett, the former chief executive officer and part owner of Home Mortgage Inc., who is accused of submitting 450 fictitious mortgage loans to GMAC Bank and an affiliated lender. Instead of using the money advanced by GMAC to fund loans, Luckett used the money to continue operations of Home Mortgage and to pay various personal expenses, prosecutors said.

Straw buyers

In the fifth case, United States v. Beck, et al., six defendants are accused of falsifying documents in a mortgage-fraud scheme involving straw buyers and inflated appraisals that allegedly cost lenders $3 million. Alshawntus Beck, 35, the operator of three companies that purported to be in the business of buying, repairing and reselling real estate, was allegedly assisted by Michelle Parker, 41, a loan officer at an area mortgage broker.


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