Sentencing of Real Estate Agent Concludes Prosecution of Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Sentencing Coincides with Anniversary of Operation Stolen Dreams

PORTLAND, OR – June 14, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Jennifer Venable, 29, of Beaverton, Oregon, was sentenced by the Honorable Robert E. Jones of the United States District Court on June 8, 2011, to 5 years’ probation and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution relative to her January 13, 2011 wire fraud conviction.

In 2006, Venable was working as a real estate agent for John L. Scott Realty. At that time she began assisting clients of Richardson Equities LLC to purchase real estate. Venable admitted to participating in a mortgage fraud scheme in which she assisted Nicolas Cooper to purchase a residential property located in Gladstone, Oregon. As part of the transaction, Venable helped Cooper receive a $15,000 kick-back from the mortgage loan proceeds without the knowledge of the lender. Although Venable knew that no improvements had been done on the property, Venable prepared a bogus construction invoice that falsely claimed that work had been done and submitted the invoice for payment as a repair credit at closing. After the invoice was paid by the title company at closing, Venable routed the money back to Cooper.

Ms. Venable’s sentencing brings to an end the prosecutions related to the conduct of Jeremy Richardson and his company, Richardson Equities LLC. Richardson’s company ran a “rent-to-own” scheme that promised high profits to investors who purchased homes on behalf of tenants who agreed to purchase the home from the investor at a price greater than the original purchase price when their credit improved. To effect the scheme, the investor would apply for a residential mortgage using inflated asset and income information and lie about the true nature of the loan. Richardson and his associates purchased over 100 homes in the Portland area valued in excess of $35 million. In every case, Richardson and his investors failed to maintain their financial obligations and the properties fell into foreclosure.

On May 4, 2010, Jeremy Richardson was sentenced to 37 months in federal custody following his guilty plea to money laundering. In addition to Richardson and Venable, others involved in the rent-to own scheme involved Nicolas Cooper of Portland, Oregon, who was sentenced to a term of 5 years’ probation and ordered to pay $102,058 in restitution on May 23, 2011, following his plea of guilty to wire fraud in relation to his purchase of the Gladstone property; Andrew Paul Shute of Seattle Washington, who was sentenced to 5 years of probation and ordered to pay $61,332 in restitution following his plea of guilty to wire fraud related to his activities as a mortgage broker on behalf of Richardson; and Tyler Jacob Marsten of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was sentenced to 5 years’ probation and ordered to pay $39,549 in restitution following his conviction for bank fraud related to his activities as a mortgage broker on behalf of Richardson.

“A year ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Oregon Department of Finance and Corporate Securities, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) began Operation Stolen Dreams, a concerted effort to prosecute mortgage fraud in our community,” said Dwight Holton, U. S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “To date, 38 individuals have been prosecuted for their fraudulent mortgage activities. The convictions and sentences imposed in those cases demonstrate that no one is above the law. Mortgage fraud has devastated many of our communities and threatened serious risk to our financial institutions. Operation Stolen Dreams has been an effective tool to identify and prosecute real estate professionals and others who committed mortgage fraud in this district. We continue to investigate and will prosecute individuals who engage in all forms of mortgage fraud. If convicted, these individuals will face serious consequences.”

The cases against Venable, Cooper, Shute and Marsten were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Portland Division, and prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

Contact:
United States Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon
Contact: (503) 727-1000

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