SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 5 for the head of two San Diego-based mortgage investment firms for his guilty plea to paying $1 million in bribes to bank insiders to secure bids to purchase mortgage loans that were then sold on the secondary market.
Israel Hechter, owner of Ocean 18 LLC and Note Tracker Corp., admitted Friday in federal court to paying off workers at J.P. Morgan Chase, GMAC Mortgage, LLC, and National City Bank so they would favor him by altering some bids, rejecting others and erasing or ignoring still others from qualified competitors.
The bankers also rigged bidding by supplying Hechter, 47, with confidential information about prices and competing bids, according to prosecutors.
"Individuals and corrupt bank employees who attempt to tilt this playing field for their own advantage cannot be tolerated," Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern told the court.
According to his plea agreement, Hechter and co-conspirators tried to cover up the bribes by pretending that they were legitimate commissions unrelated to the bankers' positions with the banks, and by using a phony "consulting agreement," a sham business and a corresponding bank account to disguise the illicit payments.
Many of the loans at issue were non-performing or distressed second mortgages. Hechter pooled them and sold shares to investors, usually friends and family members, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego.
After purchase, Ocean 18 LLC would service the loans and collect monthly payments from the borrowers, or would initiate foreclosure proceedings when the borrowers defaulted. The investors made money when borrowers made payments, sold the properties, or after foreclosure and resale.
Hechter's 42-year-old brother, Amir, and business associate, Jack Prober, 56, pleaded guilty Wednesday to participating in the conspiracy. Both admitted writing personal checks to bankers to help them evade taxes on the illegal income.
The sibling co-defendants' father, 68-year-old Zeev Hechter, pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking part in the scheme by hand-delivering about $330,000 in cash to GMAC banker Robert Moreno. Moreno, 42, allegedly would meet with Zeev Hechter on New York City street corners and visit him at the latter's carwash to launder the bribes.
Amir Hechter, Zeev Hechter and Prober are also scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 5.
Moreno was arrested July 15 for his alleged role in the conspiracy. His trial has not been scheduled.
A local war hero is about to be laid to rest. Retired Navy Captain James "Duffy" Hutton spent years of his service as a prisoner of war in Vietnam before he settled down here in San Diego.
Sunday marked day two of the government shutdown - and with the work week beginning Monday - thousands of employees may not go back to work.
Temperatures are expected to rise slightly on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, but will remain cooler than normal.
A motorcyclist was suspected of drunken driving after causing a late-night car crash in Pacific Beach, police said Sunday, and hours later, a second crash occurred in the intersection while police were still investigating.
The San Diego County Planning Commission voted 6-1 last week to recommend that the County’s Board of Supervisors approve the County’s revised Climate Action Plan, with some modifications.
John Coleman, a long-serving San Diego weatherman and founder of The Weather Channel, has died at the age of 83.
Several dogs were taken into the custody of San Diego County and put down, after a Lomita woman reported that her six dogs were attacked and some killed by a group of pit bulls.
Thousands of people marched through downtown San Diego and San Marcos in the second annual Women's March Saturday. The San Diego event began at 10 a.m. at the downtown Waterfront Park on Pacific Highway, while the North County event began at 11 a.m. at Palomar College.
Thousands of people marched through downtown San Diego and San Marcos in the second annual Women's March Saturday. The San Diego event began at 10 a.m. at the downtown Waterfront Park on Pacific Highway, while the North County event began at 11 a.m. at Palomar College. The two marches were held in conjunction with other marches across the country.
The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, which prompted the closure of many federal operations, such as national parks and monuments and that included the shutdown of Cabrillo National Monument.