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14 people, including 2 from Bradenton, charged with $47 million mortgage fraud scheme

SARASOTA - Fourteen people, including two from Bradenton have been charged with participating in "a large-scale mortgage fraud involving more than $47 million in loans and 22 residential properties in Sarasota, according to federal prosecutors.

The Bradenton residents were identified as Jeffrey T. Berghorn, 46, who bought and sold homes in Sarasota; and Lisa R. Rotolo, 47, a title agent and owner of Diamond Title of Sarasota.

Authorities, including U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill and Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, were announcing the charges at a news conference this afternoon in Sarasota.

“Mortgage fraud has negatively affected many areas of Florida. This case represents the depth of that impact and the tenacious commitment by law enforcement, at all levels, to vigorously investigate and prosecute thesetypes of crimes," O'Neill said in a news release.

An unsealed 44-count indictment charges the 14 defendants with conspiracy to make false statements to federally insured banks in connection with mortgage loans, to commit wire fraud, and crimes related to their fraudulent acquisition of more than $47 million in mortgage loans and 22 residential properties in the Sarasota area, according to a news release.

The scheme was in operation for more than 10 years, from at least October 1997 to March 2008, according to the indictment.

"The indictment alleges the defendants’ use of, among other means, false statements and fraudulent representations on financing documents to obtain loans from nearly a dozen federally insured banks and private mortgage lenders doing business in the Sarasota area," the news release states.

The allegedly false and fraudulent statements made by the defendantsincluded, but were not limited to, the true seller and purchaser/borrower in the transaction; the property’s actual purchase/sale price; the purchaser/borrower’s intended use of the property; the purchaser/borrower’s income, assets and liabilities; and the amount and source of the equity contributed to the purchase of the property by the purchaser/borrower.

As a result of the defendants’ fraudulent conduct, most of the residential properties referenced in the indictment have been, or are now, the subject of foreclosure proceedings, according to the release.

The 14 people indicted are:

-- R. Craig Adams, (43, Sarasota), who was previously employed as a real estate agent working principally in the Sarasota area. Adams also acted as a mortgage broker from time to time, and bought and sold residential real property in Sarasota on his own account.

-- Richard J. Bobka, (41, Sarasota), who was previously employed as a realestate agent working principally in the Sarasota area. Bobka, like Adams, also acted as a mortgage broker from time to time, and bought and sold residential real property in Sarasota on his own account as well.

-- George R. Bobka, Sr., (75, Sarasota), the father of co-defendants Richard J. Bobka and George R. Cavallo, who bought and sold residential real property in the Sarasota area through co-defendants R. Craig Adams and Richard J. Bobka.

-- George R. Cavallo, (45, Kirkland, Wash.), the husband of co-defendant Paula L. Hornberger, who also bought and sold residential real property in the Sarasota area through co-defendants R. Craig Adams and Richard J. Bobka.

-- Paula L. Hornberger, (40, Kirkland, Wash.), the wife of co-defendant George R.Cavallo, who likewise bought and sold residential real property in the Sarasota area through co-defendants R. Craig Adams and Richard J. Bobka.

-- Lisa R. Rotolo, (47, Bradenton), who was a title agent and owner of Diamond Title of Sarasota Inc. in Sarasota, where she worked with co-defendant Bonnie J. Katz.

-- Bonnie J. Katz, (58, Sarasota), who was as a settlement or escrow officeremployed by co-defendant Lisa R. Rotolo at Diamond Title of Sarasota Inc.

-- Jeffrey T. Berghorn, (46, Bradenton), who bought and sold residential real property in the Sarasota area through co-defendants R. Craig Adams and Richard J. Bobka.

-- Thomas M. Brustad, (41, Sarasota), who also bought and sold residential real property in the Sarasota area through co-defendants R. Craig Adams and Richard J. Bobka.

-- Joseph J. Dirocco, (41, Sarasota), who likewise bought and sold residential real property in the Sarasota area through co-defendants R. Craig Adams and Richard J. Bobka.

-- Jonathan L. Glucker, (43, Sarasota), the husband of co-defendant Heather L. Kabobel, who was previously employed as a loan officer for several mortgage brokers.

-- Heather L. Kabobel, (39, Sarasota), the wife of co-defendant Jonathan L. Glucker, who was employed as an appraiser.

-- Derek W. Luther, (40, Sarasota), who bought and sold residential real property in the Sarasota area through co-defendants R. Craig Adams and Richard J. Bobka.

-- Joel A. Streinz, (52, Nokomis), who bought and sold residential real property in the Sarasota area through co-defendants R. Craig Adams and Richard J. Bobka.

If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison and up to $1 million for each conspiracy count; and up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each count of wire fraud and making false statements to a financial institution in connection with a loan.

"The indictment also notified defendants that the United States intends to forfeit all of the proceeds they obtained as a result of the mortgage and wire fraud charges in the indictment," the news release states.

The case was investigated jointly by the FBI, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s Office of Inspector General and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

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