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Financial Crimes

South Florida title company owners sentenced to prison for multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme

MIAMI - A Miami husband and wife were sentenced yesterday to four and eight years in prison, respectively, for their involvement in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.

Evelyn Marrero and Jorge Bacallao, the owners of the now-defunct J&E Universal Title Services, Inc., pleaded guilty in December 2008 to conspiracy and wire fraud charges, arising out of a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme. They were charged in a multi-count indictment along with co-defendants Aivet Loarca, Marilyn De La Paz, aka Marilyn Martis, Daisy Gonzalez, Loaisa Rodriguez, and Elena Garman.

Marrero and Bacallao owned and operated, along with De La Paz, J&E Universal Title Services in Miami-Dade County, Fla. Marrero, Bacallao, and De La Paz participated in fraudulent purchase and sale transactions of residential property as the title and closing agent through J&E Universal.

In order to carry out the scheme, Marrero, Bacallao, and De La Paz conspired with Loarca and Gonzalez, who worked as mortgage loan brokers, to submit fraudulent applications for mortgage loans. The applications included false information about the borrowers' employment verification, income and deposit funds verification, and rent verification. As part of the transactions, the defendants used straw purchasers, including Rodriguez, or otherwise used stolen identities, which Garman helped obtain.

Following the lending institutions' approval of the applications, the institutions wire-transferred the loan proceeds to the defendants' title company for closing. The defendants regularly used J&E Universal as the title closing agent.  Through J&E Universal, the defendants used the loan proceeds to pay creditors, themselves, and other co-conspirators.

From early 2005 through late 2007, the defendants participated in some or all of more than 30 real estate transactions in Miami-Dade County with funded loans totaling almost $13 million.

Judge Adalberto Jordan has sentenced four of the defendants in this case, including Rodriguez, who received 24 months imprisonment on May 12, 2009; Gonzalez, who received 30 months imprisonment on May 26, 2009; De La Paz, who received 96 months imprisonment on May 28, 2009; and Loarca, who received 72 months imprisonment on June 2, 2009.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey E. Tsai.