Third Defendant in Mortgage Fraud Scheme Sentenced to Prison


December 12, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced that a third defendant connected to a mortgage fraud scheme was sentenced today by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik to spend 20 months in federal prison.

According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, Richard Woods, age 54, of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, previously pleaded guilty to a charge of mail fraud.

Woods was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2007, as a result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Indictment outlined a scheme whereby operators and employees of First Advantage Mortgage Company, which was based in Lake Ariel and later Hamlin, and had an office in Old Forge, and Four Star Mortgage Company, which was based in Gouldsboro, used false appraisals and false documents, including false W-2 forms, false real estate appraisals, and false employment records, to qualify customers for inflated mortgages and loans during 1999 through 2005. Some of those customers subsequently defaulted on the mortgages and loans resulting in losses to banks and other financial institutions. The amount of money involved in the fraudulent scheme was between $1 million and $2.5 million, and involved between 10 and 50 victims. Woods admitted that he prepared numerous false real estate appraisals to qualify borrowers for inflated mortgages.

Woods is the third defendant connected to the scheme to be sentenced in federal court. Alex Gambini, the former owner/operator of First Advantage Mortgage Company, was previously sentenced by Judge Kosik to 57 months in prison. Benjamin Haughney, who was a mortgage broker for First Advantage Mortgage Company and the owner/operator of Four Star Mortgage Company, was sentenced to two years in prison.

Judge Kosik also ordered Woods to serve three years on supervised release following his prison sentence, and to pay a $100 special assessment. The Court deferred ruling on restitution in the matter for 90 days. In his plea agreement, Woods agreed to pay restitution for losses resulting from his conduct.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Francis P. Sempa prosecuted the case.

Middle District of Pennsylvania(717) 221-4482


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