Four people will be going to federal prison for fraudulent loan modification schemes that victimized struggling homeowners dealing with foreclosure.
Jesse Wheeler, 37, has been sentenced to three years. Jewel Hinkles, aka Cydney Sanchez, 64 received five years. Cynthia Corn, 61, received two and a half years. And Brent Medearis, 48, will serve one year and ten months in prison.
Jesse Wheeler, one of Hinkels’ associates, took in approximately $2,133,376 from more than 600 struggling homeowners. Wheeler and Medearis have previously pled guilty for bankruptcy fraud. Wheeler herself raked in close to $5 million from victims
The Loan Modification Scheme
According to evidence presented by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, Jewel Hinkles, founder and general manager of Horizon Property Holdings, offered illegitimate programs promising to save struggling homeowners’ homes from 2008 to 2010. Hinkles set up a network of companies around California – in Beverly Hills, Manteca, and Roseville. Horizon Property Holdings offered the programs directly to victims and through “affiliates,” such as Wheeler, and the other defendants named in the case.
The programs, called “Save My Home” and “Homesaver” promised owners reductions of their mortgages through buying the mortgages at a discounted rate in order to reduce the principal and month payments. The defendants then filed fraudulent deeds and transferred the properties to a fictitious entity called Pacifica Group 49/II. Enrollment in the illegitimate programs required clients to pay anywhere from $$1,750 to $3,500 in initial fees, and monthly fees ranging from $1,500 to $6,500.
Bankruptcy Court Fraud to Appear Legitimate
The defendants also filed fraudulent petitions in bankruptcy court, naming both homeowner and Pacifica Group 49/II as debtors. This was done to invoke automatic provisions that are a part of federal bankruptcy law, in hopes of halting foreclosure actions against the debtor’s property, thus buying the defendants time to be able to pretend they were actually providing a legitimate service.
Prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee S. Bickley, said the defendants preyed on victims at their most vulnerable point. “They took their last dime when they actually needed it to pay their mortgage,” she said.