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Four Orange County defendants sentenced in loan modification scam

Four Orange County men were sentenced Monday for their participation in a real estate investment scam that took an estimated $130,000 from hundreds of victims, prosecutors said.

Justin Dennis Koelle, 23, of Costa Mesa, was sentenced to nine months in jail and five years of formal probation, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Dominic Adam Nolan, 32, of Irvine, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of formal probation. Jacob John Cunningham, 26, and John D. Silva, 28, both of Irvine, each received sentences of eight months in jail and five years formal probation.

All four men are required to pay restitution. They pleaded guilty in May to charges that include conspiracy to collect illegal upfront fees.

A fifth man, Andrew Michael Phalen, 26, of Mission Viejo, pleaded guilty in June 2012. He was sentenced to a year in jail and five years of formal probation.

All five men are prohibited from engaging in loan modification or loan consulting practices.

Prosecutors said that from January 2009 to March 2012, the men created fraudulent loan modification businesses that were used to steal money without completing any services.

The men sent letters offering to restructure home loans. The notices looked as if they came from the recipients’ lenders, prosecutors said.

The five regularly changed the names of their fake businesses, as well as their phone numbers and addresses.

In December 2011, Cunningham, Nolan and Silva started another scheme that distributed letters that were forged with a CitiFinancial or CitiMortgage logo. The letters offered a low interest rate to refinance a home and instructed the recipient to deposit $3,500 to $4,600 directly into bank accounts.

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LAWYERS REALTY GROUP is an attorney owned and operated real estate brokerage that was formed to help level the playing field between struggling homeowners and the banks who are threatening them with foreclosure, eviction, deficiency judgments, and collection actions.

Unlike traditional real estate agents, loan mod companies, bankruptcy attorneys, litigators and others who aggressively market their particular one-size-fits-all solution regardless of a homeowner’s future liability and financial well-being, Lawyers Realty Group provides clients with a customized analysis of their options, free legal counseling and clear direction on how to best resolve their particular mortgage issues – all without charging fees to the homeowner.

 

Derik N. Lewis, Esq., is the founder and president of Lawyers Realty Group. Derik is a California real estate attorney, a licensed Realtor® and a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. He graduated magna cum laude from Boston University School of Law and has nearly 30 years of real estate experience. For more than two decades as an attorney in private practice, Derik has represented California homeowners with difficult real estate matters. Derik previously served as legal counsel for some of the world’s largest lenders including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase (he knows how they operate and how to work within their systems to help you achieve the best possible outcome). He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Southern California School of Law speaking on real estate law, brokerage and litigation.

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