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Ex-Cops, Criminal Enterprises Nabbed for Mortgage Fraud

_MReport_ captured a look at crooked cops, money-launderers, and criminal enterprises for the mortgage fraud blotter Friday. This week state and federal officials nabbed three people for their purported roles in a $12-million scheme, 32 in a $5.1-million plot, and a state trooper over a matter of $100,000 allegedly reaped from falsified information.

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In coming up with the blotter, _MReport_ pulled from a number of city and regional newspapers, Web sites, and government sources that included the ""_Associated Press_"":http://www.chron.com/news/article/32-indicted-in-alleged-Ohio-mortgage-fraud-scheme-2185220.php, ""Federal Bureau of Investigation"":http://www.fbi.gov/ (FBI), and ""TampaBayOnline.com"":http://www2.tbo.com/business/business/2011/sep/22/menewso6-former-state-trooper-pleads-not-guilty-to-ar-259611/.

First up, the FBI announced that a federal grand jury delivered a string of indictments against three defendants, which their peers accused of raking in no less than $12 million from fraudulently obtained proceeds. The accused trio: Waunita Weingart, of Denver, along with John Phillip Gallegos, of Seattle and Alois Craig Weingart, also of Denver.

According to the FBI, the three duped lenders by pledging several properties as collateral on successive occasions. Gallegos and the Weingarts allegedly misrepresented their income on loan applications, submitted several under refinance applications, and hid the funds under the names of several companies belonging to the defendants.

""Honest and law abiding citizens are fed up with the likes of those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets with other people's money,"" ""said"":http://www.fbi.gov/denver/press-releases/2011/trio-indicted-in-12-million-mortgage-fraud-scheme Sean Sowards, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service, which cooperated with the FBI in pursuing the defendants. ""These individuals who engage in this type of financial fraud should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable.""

Convictions could send all three to the federal slammer for some 20 years and charge each with up to $250,000 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô for each count of wire fraud, the FBI said.

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Any conviction over alleged money-laundering activities could net each defendant with a 10-year prison sentence and not more than $250,000.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, more people apparently walked away with less, with the _Associated Press_ reporting Friday that authorities had taken in 32 people, who prosecutors allege orchestrated a $5.1-million plot involving 44 properties in Ohio's Cuyahoga County.

The news service said that the purported gang went about the scheme by buying properties in foreclosure or others from sheriff's sales. The defendants then marked up values on loan applications to scoop up mortgages for each of the properties.

Authorities made public that nine defendants got slapped with felony charges related to theft and engagement in a criminal enterprise, according to the _AP_. The other 23 found themselves saddled with charges also related to theft.

Last but far from least, TampaBayOnline.com offered up the story of an accused former Florida highway patrolman who found himself on the other side pleading not guilty to mortgage-fraud charges.

According to the Web site, Shaun Leo Reid, then an officer, purportedly skimmed on his income for federal loan documents, which he used to pick up a Tampa investment home priced at $500,000. He allegedly walked away from the purchase with $100,000.

After obtaining the mortgage, Reid received over $100,000 from the seller of the property, according to TampaBayOnline.com. He then allegedly used the sum for a down payment, avoiding any expenses that would otherwise accrue to his $41,000 annual salary.

The Florida Highway Patrol dismissed Reid in early September over the investigation, which led to charges for the officer that include grand theft, mortgage fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud, according to the Web site.

TampaBayOnline.com quoted Reid's attorney as contending, ""It's pretty conceivable how this could happen if you're not the one sending the info to the bank.""

Whither the loan officer responsible for signing off on the application? TampaBayOnline.com said it could not reach one Brandon Anderson, formerly the director of Griffin Anderson Enterprises, a business no longer in operation, for comment.

Authorities have not pressed for any indictments against Anderson, according to the Web site.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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