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Realtor Who Worked in Livermore Arrested on Suspicion of Fraud

A Fremont woman was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of scheming to cheat two lenders with a fraudulent short-sale in the Central Valley.

Minerva Sanchez, 47, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that she concocted a bogus short-sale in Patterson, which allegedly cost Tri Counties Bank in Brentwood $247,000 and Freddie Mac $107,348. She was arraigned in federal court in San Jose.

Sanchez is listed as an agent with Century 21 in San Jose. Her online profile says she services Livermore and is a “certified distressed property expert.” Sanchez faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The full text of a press release from the U.S Department of Justice:

Minerva Sanchez, 47, was arrested at her home in Fremont today for conspiring to commit bank fraud in connection with a fraudulent short-sale scheme, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

The indictment, unsealed today, was returned by a federal grand jury in Fresno on December 19, 2013. Sanchez was arraigned today in San Jose federal district court and pleaded not guilty to the charges. She is scheduled to appear in Fresno before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe on February 10, 2014.

According to court documents, in March 2010, Sanchez, a licensed real estate agent, represented Agustin Simon, 52, of Gustine, in the sale of his home in Patterson. Sanchez recommended that he undertake a short-sale of his home using her son as a straw buyer. Simon submitted to Tri Counties Bank and Freddie Mac fraudulent short-sale applications that caused them to approve the charge-off of funds for the short-sale of his home. Sanchez and Simon falsely claimed that the transaction was “arm’s length,” and the made false statements about Simon’s assets and ownership of other real estate. Sanchez wrote a “hardship letter” for Simon to include with the short-sale application that misrepresented his inability to make his monthly mortgage payments. They made other false statements in order to conceal their agreement that Simon would provide Sanchez’s son with the money for the short-sale but ultimately would regain ownership of his home following the short-sale.

With Sanchez’s knowledge, Simon provided her son with $355,000, the purchase price of the home. In addition to her commission as the listing agent, Sanchez received 75 percent of the commission paid to her son’s real estate agent. As a result of her conduct, Tri Counties Bank suffered a loss of $247,000 and Freddie Mac lost $107,348.

On June 10, 2013, Simon, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud in connection with this scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 6, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill.

“The alleged actions of Minerva Sanchez were harmful to Freddie Mac and the taxpayers,” said Michael P. Stephens, Acting Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). “Every fraud causes harm or loss and we will work with our law enforcement partners to stop any and all criminal activity.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the FHFA Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Baker is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Sanchez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Terri January 22, 2014 at 10:27 PM
What about the seller and the son? Aren't they just as guilty?
A Reader January 23, 2014 at 07:26 AM
They are all guilty as hell. Greed and stupidity on the part of buyers as well as the unscrupulous realtors and lenders brought this country to its knees. Then Congress decided that all of those poor little greedy and stupid homeowners who promised to pay loans that they could never afford should not have to pay tax on all of that forgiven debt. Let's see -- they bought the house, they agreed to pay for it, they took the tax deductions for the amount they did pay and then they walked away unscathed with hundreds of thousands of dollars of free money in the form of debt relief. And who pays for that? Oh yeah, those of us who buy only what we can afford and then actually pay our debts.
Karen January 23, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Just surprises me that while these three individuals are prosecuted to the nth degree, Wall Street, the banks, appraisers who inflated mortgage values, all walked from their raping of the treasury, while leaving millions homeless. In response to " A REader", I am one who lost my house. Yes, I agreed to pay for it. When the recession started, I lost my employment of 11 years. I existed for 4 years (until my house sold) off life savings and renting a room. I am not independently wealthy, and though I had savings for a "rainy day and emergency", it was not sufficient to last more than 4 years. At 60, the employment market is not very friendly, and an $8-$12 hour job does not pay for a mortgage, or even renting a room in the bay area. I didn't walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars. I lost everything, job, home, possessions, with little opportunity to recover given my age. And what amazes me about this is though the bank would not "write my mortgage" down so I could afford it, they did accept a short-sale of almost $80K less. If they had written my mortgage down that amount for me, I'd still be living there, paying for it by having a roommate. Also, i don't believe having "housing" can be attributed to greed and stupidity. No one can foresee long-term unemployment, particularly when one has a college education and an established work history and resume. Everyone can point to good examples and bad examples during these difficult economic times. However, the old stereotypes don't fit, and you do a disservice to many of the "new homeless" who are not there out of greed, or lack of planning on their part. No amount of planning can prepare one to live independently without employment.
Spike H January 23, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Not only should they throw the book at her, they should rip out the pages and stuff 'em down her greedy little throat...then ship her back to Tijuana...
Local Resident January 23, 2014 at 12:16 PM
The banks are the greedy ones. They are the ones that could have helped millions of people from losing their homes. Instead, the banks chose to short sale the home, collect the short sale loss, ( the difference) thru the Federal Government aka taxpayers. The banks were still making money, Government was giving them money to help these homeowners. Homeowner could have stayed, and the bank would have still been paid the money back thru the Federal Government (taxpayers). Nobody wants to lose their home. The banks are the real criminals.
Becky January 23, 2014 at 12:22 PM
I totally agree with Karen. Everyone has been punished except Wall Street and banks, and those in Washington who encouraged the real estate meltdown. And the potential sentences for this Realtor seem so severe compared to almost no criminal prosecutions for banks and Wall Street. She should lose her Realtor's license, jail time, and a fine.
Desert Rat January 23, 2014 at 05:24 PM
This problem started long ago during the Carter era. When the federal government decides that every person in the U.S. deserves to own their own home no matter their income or ability to pay, they strong arm the banks. The banks play ball because they are beholden to the government for many things. Any smart banker knows not to loan to a high risk client. But when the feds tell them they will back their play, they cooperate. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also complicit in this scam as well.
Becky January 23, 2014 at 06:53 PM
Not much sympathy here for the banks. But, by way of ripping off the banks, she is ripping off taxpayers. I think the whole meltdown was engineered for the one percenters to get richer, and to force people to be more movable when the government wants them to make way for something else.
anon January 24, 2014 at 07:19 PM
I disagree with those who have said she is ripping off taxpayers or a bank. The house was a short sale. The lender is willing to accept less than the balance due, but NOT willing to reduce the balance to reflect the market value of the home? Why not? Had they foreclosed, it would have cost them even more money than simply reducing the balance on the note. There is no loss here. If the guy stopped paying his mortgage then foreclosure was the next event. They are just mad because someone figured out a way to make a bank "do the right thing" without knowing they were doing it. If they were okay short selling the home, then why should they care if the homeowner they evicted buys it back for less than he owed them? They are going to book a loss on the property either way. Instead of working with homeowners to stay in their homes (remember the Obama program about that...what the hell ever happened to that? Nobody got loan modifications...after all that blather about the "Keep Your Home" program, the banks simply foreclosed and sat on a bunch of inventory). I have zero sympathy for anyone claiming to be a "victim" in this case...they aren't victims...they're usurers who failed to participate in a federal program that The Idiot promised Americans. Rot in hell!
anon January 24, 2014 at 07:23 PM
Becky, its not her fault the government is stealing your money. I think you have confused the "root cause" of responsibility here. It all points right back to the government, their policies, and the banking cartel that THEY set up. As far as I am concerned, thieves cannot be victimized. And both banks and the governments they have in their pockets are nothing but crooks engaging in a vast criminal conspiracy to steal the fruits of the labor of others. Don't feel sorry for them, and don't blame those who might be using this twisted system to their advantage. Blame those who ARE the system....take action against THEM. They are the source of all the malfeasance.
Becky January 25, 2014 at 10:13 PM
I agree, anon. But this "R"ealtor did commit fraud by lying about the brother being arm's length, and the seller did commit fraud by lying about his other real estate and ability to pay. Fraud does have to be controlled, or millions of people would be doing it.
Jim McSharry January 28, 2014 at 02:10 PM
As far back as 1883 the banks and their officers have boldly stated in writing that they would manipulate the markets by alternately providing then withdraw ready cash in an effort to gain the fruits of the working class. That they "must act with caution" not to upset the masses "yet quickly" because those without homes will be too busy to organize against them.
Desert Rat January 29, 2014 at 12:26 AM
I am curious as to why there is this concept that if the bank won't "work with the homeowners" so that they can stay in the home but pay less than they promised to pay in the first place, that makes the banks evil? If you sign a contract to pay a certain amount of money for a loan, then why is it that the lender is the bad guy and not the borrower if they default? I don't blame the banks. They are not some nebulous entity. Many banks have stockholders and many stockholders are regular citizens who buy stock, bonds or invest in various funds. I blame the government for pushing the banks to make bad loans by hook and by crook. When a liberal government tells the banks to essentially redistribute the wealth by giving a bad loan to a low income person, and the bank cooperates because they have one arm twisted behind their backs, then the ultimate culprit is the overly Socialistic government. This doesn't mean the banks are not greedy, but that is somewhat their job, to constantly try and make money for the owner and shareholders.
Karen January 29, 2014 at 01:34 AM
It's not a "liberal" "conservative" issue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eInuuLp1Dw
Joe Granada January 29, 2014 at 10:39 AM
Yes, many big banks looted the country, but they did not break any laws, because they wrote the laws. This is what happens when you let big money take over your political system. It will happen again--not in the next five years, but maybe in ten or twenty.
Karen January 29, 2014 at 10:51 AM
The government has not "imposed" it's will on the banks. The reverse is true, and it began with deregulation. Prior to that, mortgage bonds were retained by the lending institutions (Savings and Loans) and separated from "commercial lending". They were not permitted to be used as poker chips in a global economy, and the banking issue was not restricted to the U.S., (and by extension U.S. laws), but it was a global debacle, entered into by financial institutions on their own accord.


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