Fraud. Photo credit: FBI.gov

A GMAC banker who accepted more than $1 million in bribes in return for rigging bids for secondary market mortgages for his preferred customers was sentenced in San Diego federal court Tuesday to 37 months in prison.

Robert Moreno — who U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez called the kingpin in the commercial bribery and tax evasion scheme — was ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution to GMAC and an additional $140,941 to the IRS.

According to court records, Moreno admitted that between December 2011 and July 2013, he used his position and influence at GMAC to ensure that his preferred customers, including San Diego businessman Israel Hechter and Woodland Hills businessman Ben Keisari, won their bids to purchase mortgage loans that were being resold by GMAC.

In order to ensure that Hechter’s and Keisari’s bids won, Moreno would alter other bids, reject bids, and erase or ignore bids from qualified competitors, so that his corrupt customers would appear to be the most qualified bidders.

Moreno, 42, also provided Hechter and Keisari with “inside information” about prices and competing bids, giving them a leg up in the bidding process and ensuring that they won the most lucrative deals, the court records showed.

In exchange, Hechter and Keisari, and others who worked for them, delivered bribe payments of more than $1 million to Moreno. Initially, Moreno arranged to be paid by personal check or in hand-delivered cash payments in order to conceal the bribes and avoid reporting them to the IRS, authorities said.

For example, Hechter recruited his father to deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash bribes to Moreno on New York City street corners and at a car wash.

In a similar vein, Moreno would meet Keisari in Las Vegas hotels and other places to arrange in-person deliveries of tens of thousands of dollars in cash. Authorities said Moreno never disclosed the income on his 2011 and 2012 tax returns.

As the amount of the bribe payments increased, Moreno entered into “sham” consulting agreements with Hechter and Keisari to make it appear as if the bribes were legitimate fees paid for services unrelated to Moreno’s work at GMAC, authorities said.

Moreno is the fifth defendant in the bribery ring to be sentenced.

— City News Service

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