Eight charged with real estate fraud

LOS ANGELES - A 52-year-old woman accused of orchestrating a $13 million real estate scam involving more than 20 properties was due to be arraigned at a downtown Los Angeles courthouse this week.Brenda Felix is charged with 75 counts. Alleged co-conspirators Nelson Cabral, 52, and Bryan Deters, 50, were also expected to be arraigned and are accused of participating in a string of illegal transactions. The crew is charged in a 76-count criminal complaint that includes charges of grand theft; attempted grant theft; procuring and offering a false or forged instrument; forgery; perjury; and failure to file income tax returns. Lessa Patten, 37, and Cynthia Emerson, 58, also are charged in the case and are accused of posing as straw buyers. A straw buyer is a purchaser who knowingly acquires an item or service for someone who is unable to personally make the transaction. Patten, Emerson and Felix are sisters. In addition to posing as a straw buyer, Patten allegedly created an alternate identity and recruited others to participate in the scam, prosecutors said. Patten is charged with 37 counts and Emerson faces seven counts. Arrest warrants have been issued for two others charged in the case: Valentine Awosika, 55, and James Jackson, 62. Over the course of about nine months, Felix allegedly set up a network of straw buyers to obtain financing for the purchase of 23 properties, mainly in the Antelope Valley. The properties each ranged between $500,000 and $700,000. Cabral is accused of falsely verifying employment for the phony buyers and Deters, a mortgage broker, allegedly helped process their loans. Eight financial institutions were defrauded, prosecutors said. Bail for Felix was recommended at more than $13 million.

********** Published: November 25, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 32