Five sentenced in mortgage fraud

Two Huntington Beach residents were sentenced to federal prison Feb. 17 for their involvement in a $13-million mortgage fraud case that targeted homeowners in default.

Edward Seung Ok, 44, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Vladimir Stefanovic, 38, was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Three others were also sentenced for defrauding more than 100 homeowners and commercial lenders.

Ok violated his plea agreement by failing to give investigators access to his bank account in the Caribbean, which housed more than $1.6 million he made by defrauding homeowners.

He had agreed to transfer all the funds to the government, but transferred the bulk of them to a secret account in the U.S. He spent most of the money while he was out on bonds on golf club memberships, illegal drugs and a $235,000 Lamborghini Gallardo.

The five partners operated their mortgage fraud system through the real estate and escrow agencies Silvernet Properties in Downey and Bellasi Escrow in Seal Beach. They used computerized databases that list homes going into foreclosure to find victims to promise refinancing services.

Downey resident Martha Rodriguez, 38, who orchestrated the scheme, was sentenced to 10 years; Orange resident Cynthia Valenzuela, 27, was sentenced to just over one year in prison; and Canoga Park resident Maria G. Juarez, 39, was given three years.

The case was investigated by the FBI and criminal investigation branch of the Internal Revenue Service.

— Britney Barnes

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