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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.


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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