Two of the four men indicted by a San Diego Superior Court grand jury in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme were at-large.
Arnold Millman and Andrew Valles were indicted for grand theft, filing false or forged documents in a public office, conspiracy to commit those offenses and identity theft, as well as special allegations for aggravated white-collar crimes, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
Mark Bellinger and Jemal Lilly were indicted on the same charges, arrested Jan. 30 and have pleaded not guilty, Becerra said.
There were 194 felony criminal counts in the indictment, Becerra said. The purported crimes resulted in a total loss of roughly $2 million for 40 victims, most of them black and Hispanic families, many of whom ultimately lost their homes and life savings, according to Becerra.
“The perpetrators of this mortgage fraud stole the life savings of decent Californians,” Becerra said. “It’s too common a story with all-too- common tactics. I hope (the) arrests and indictments break the stride of those who prey on hard-working Americans and betray their trust.”
The defendants allegedly carried out the offenses in San Diego, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties between 2012 and 2017, using a fake insurance company called “SafeCare,” which promised to provide home loans at a low monthly price.
Over the five-year period, according to the indictments, Bellinger, Lilly, Millman and Valles delayed foreclosures and eviction actions by filing false court documents under fictitious names, and instructed victims to deposit illegal advance fees and other large payments into a bank account controlled by the defendants.
When the promised loans did not come through, the defendants would proceed with the fabricated filings, prosecutors allege. The victims were charged additional fees for the false “attorney services,” according to Becerra.
“This case is evidence that insurance fraud is not a victimless crime,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. “These suspects allegedly deceived dozens of victims to the tune of over $2 million, leaving them uninsured and at great financial risk.”
The charges stem from a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice, California Department of Insurance and the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General.
Any addition victims of the alleged scheme were urged to call the Department of Justice at (916) 322-3360.
—City News Service