Mortgage Broker Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud Related to Residential Loan Applications

PORTLAND, OR – February 9, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Joel D. Surprenant, 43, of West Linn, Oregon, pled guilty today to the crime of bank fraud. Surprenant is scheduled to appear again before U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones on May 12, 2010, for sentencing on these charges.

In pleading guilty, Surprenant admitted that while employed as a mortgage broker for Morgan Financial, in August, 2006, he provided false information to First Franklin Financial Corporation in order to obtain a loan for himself for property located in Hood River, Oregon. To support the mortgage loan, Surprenant prepared a uniform residential loan application and falsified his financial qualifications. Surprenant created and submitted false supporting documentation, including pay stubs, to corroborate his false financial qualifications. The defendant also inflated the sale price of the residence in order to receive a kickback from the seller outside of the closing of the transaction. In addition, he identified an unsuspecting co-worker as the mortgage broker, forging the co-worker’s signature on the residential loan application. Surprenant subsequently defaulted on the loan, resulting in a loss to First Franklin Financial Corporation in excess of $96,000.

As part of the plea agreement with the United States, Surprenant also admitted and accepted financial responsibility for two other fraudulent loan schemes related to two residential properties he purchased in 2006 in Bend, Oregon. Those schemes involved Surprenant fraudulently obtaining three mortgage loans through Bank of America in which Surprenant identified his brother as the borrower without the brother’s knowledge or consent. The defendant later defaulted on the loans resulting in losses to Bank of America of approximately $145,000.

The maximum penalty for bank fraud is 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000. In addition to pleading guilty, Surprenant agreed to pay restitution for the full amount of the actual losses to the financial institutions. The investigation was initiated by the Portland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

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