Martin Calzada, 29, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and eight counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution Friday.
Calzada conspired to defraud homeowners facing foreclosure.
Calzada and other employees of Star Reliable Mortgage, which had offices in Bakersfield, Visalia, and Salinas, targeted distressed homeowners with a fraudulent “loan elimination” scheme.
Between approximately August 2010 and October 2011, Star Reliable charged clients an upfront fee for its services, ranging from $2,500 up to $4,500, as well as monthly fees, based on false promises that the clients could own their homes “free and clear” as a result of Star Reliable’s services.
Clients paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Star Reliable and at least $300,000 was transferred from Star Reliable into Calzada’s bank accounts.
In furtherance of the scheme, Calzada and other employees at Star Reliable filed at county recorders’ offices fraudulent documents on behalf of the homeowner-clients, which purported to replace the legitimate property trustees with fictitious trusts.
They also falsely signified that Star Reliable clients had one million dollars in a U.S. government account that could be used to pay off a homeowner’s mortgage.
In a related case in December 2014, co-conspirators Juan Ramon Curiel, 38, of Visalia, and Santiago Palacios-Hernandez, 47, of Salinas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Curiel also pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud.
The sentencing is scheduled for April 10.
Calzada is scheduled to be sentenced on June 5. Calzada faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.