TAMPA — After profiting up to $1 million per month by submitting false property inspections between 2007 and 2012, Spring Hill resident Dean Counce, 42, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
According to a release citing Counce's plea agreement, Counce owned American Mortgage Field Services LLC. The company provided property inspections for homes in foreclosure, including those owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration. These government entities paid servicing lenders, namely Bank of America, to maintain and protect the homes in foreclosure from further deterioration or vandalism.
Counce's company was supposed to inspect the properties, then send an inspection report and pictures to servicing lenders. He then received a fee for each inspection completed.
However, the plea agreement says as Counce's business became overwhelmed with inspections during the foreclosure boom, he and his employees began fabricating inspection reports.
Between 2007 and 2009, Bank of America paid Counce's firm $4.49 million, and between 2009 and 2012 the bank paid it an additional $19.04 million for inspections, of which a large percentage were never performed, the release states.
Counce profited up to $1 million per month on the false inspections, and the government estimates the loss to be about $12.77 million total for the case.