Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ohio Man Who Used Short Sale/Home Flipping Racket To Dupe Foreclosing Lenders Into Taking 'Haircuts' On Eleven Underwater Houses Buys His Way Out Of Possible Four Year Prison Sentence By Coughing Up $620K To Cover Restitution, Fines; Promises To Keep Nose Clean For Two Years, Will Get Three Years Slammer Time If He Violates Probation

In Franklin County, Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch reports:
  • A man who orchestrated a mortgage-fraud scheme involving 11 central Ohio properties has agreed to pay more than $577,000 in restitution.

    Donald P. Landers, 44, who now lives in Nevada, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court [] to one count of theft.

    In addition to ordering restitution, Judge David C. Young fined Landers $10,000 and put him on probation for two years. If he violates his probation, he will be sent to prison for three years, the judge said.

    Landers had pleaded guilty in April 2014 to one count of theft and three counts of money laundering, with a recommendation of four years in prison, but reached an agreement with prosecutors to withdraw that plea and plead to a lesser charge if he paid restitution.

    He deposited $620,000 into an escrow account with the court, Assistant Prosecutor Scott Smith said. The restitution amount of $577,549 and the fine will be deducted from the account.

    Landers, [...] identified properties that were in foreclosure and negotiated short sales with the lenders to buy the properties at much reduced rates in a scheme that he conducted from January 2007 to January 2008, Smith said.

    He used fraudulent information to convince lenders that the properties were worth less than market value and recruited so-called "straw buyers" to purchase the properties from his business at inflated rates. His company pocketed the difference.

    All of the properties eventually went into foreclosure, Smith said.

    The loss originally was estimated at $1.2 million, but more than half was recovered when the properties were sold at sheriff's auctions.

    Most of the restitution will be paid to financial institutions that were defrauded, although two of the straw buyers came forward with claims that will be paid, Smith said.

    Defense attorney Michael Hoague said probation was appropriate for his client, a former Marine with no prior record, whose restitution should eliminate any financial harm for the victims.

    Landers declined to make a statement during the hearing.

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