Southern California Mortgage Broker Gets 1 Year in Jail for Fraud Scheme

A Southern California mortgage broker was sentenced Monday to one year in federal prison for his role in a fraud scheme that conned lenders out of about $3 million through bogus loan applications and bribery.

Deon L. Jackson, 38, was among six financial services workers charged in the case. Maria Arriaza, a former escrow officer from Palmdale, was convicted at trial, and the remaining five pleaded guilty.

Jackson, Arriaza and Anthony Lewis were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy.

Jennifer Le, an ex-loan processor from the South Bay, was charged with conspiracy.

Matthew Balsz, a former U.S. Bank employee from the South Bay, and former Bank of America employee Freddy Lentz were charged with accepting bribes to facilitate the scheme, federal prosecutors said.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Lewis and co-conspirators illegally obtained funds from various financial institutions by lying on loan applications used to purchase homes in the names of straw buyers.

Lewis found houses for sale, and gave bogus loan applications to Jackson and Le for processing, prosecutors said.

As a broker, Jackson reviewed the documents and told Lewis what further information was necessary to qualify straw borrowers for loans. Lewis then obtained fake bank statements and other forms, while Jackson and Le submitted the phony loan applications to lenders, according to federal prosecutors.

Once the loans were approved and the funds wired to Arriaza’s Diamond Clear Escrow in Granada Hills, she disbursed money intended for the purported buyers to co-conspirators at Lewis’ orders.

To conceal the true nature of the dibursements, Arriaza prepared false settlement statements, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Arriaza was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison and Lewis to 57 months, while Lentz, Balsz and Le received probation.