Federal prosecutors Tuesday indicted a prominent San Diego realtor, his wife and seven employees of defrauding banks and home buyers of more than $50 million.
An indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges Eric and Charmagne Elegado masterminded a scheme to use fraudulent documents to obtain home loans for more than 100 unqualified buyers between 2002 and 2007. They conspired with seven of Eric’s employees at E Real Estate and Loans, Inc., in a scheme that cost banks at least $15 million, prosecutors said.
The Elegados, Theodore Cohen, Minh Nguyen, Rigidor Pacal, Alex Garcia, Roman Macabulos, Ramin Lotfi and Roderick Huerto took advantage of poor immigrants in Mira Mesa, according to the indictment. The E Real Estate employees prepared false wage documents and other phony documentation for homebuyers and submitted them to Charmagne Elegado, who was working at New Century Mortgage, prosecutors said. Charmagne Elegado, who prosecutors said was the mastermind behind the scheme, allegedly made sure the loans were approved.
Prosecutors said that nearly all of the loans generated by the conspirators have defaulted.
Two of the victims, according to prosecutors, are Charmagne Elegado’s parents, who lost $75,000.
The Elegados and their co-defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering. All of the defendants were arrested on Friday, prosecutors said.
In court Tuesday, the seven defendants entered not guilty pleas.
“Mr. and Mrs. Elegado have strictly denied any participation in any criminal behavior,” said Paul Pfingst, who is representing Eric Elegado, “(They) are not rich people. The prosecution would have you believe they made millions of dollars.”
If convicted on all charges, Charmagne Elegado could be sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. The other defendants face sentences ranging from 12 to 17 years in prison.