Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Realtor gets 26 years for mortgage fraud

  • By
  • | 4:00 p.m. April 23, 2013
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
  • Share

TAMPA — U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich sentenced John Lebron to 26 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and making false statements to a financial institution. Lebron was found guilty of these charges Oct. 19, following a three-week trial.

In addition, Kovachevich ordered the 33-year-old Tampa resident to pay a money judgment of nearly $1.47 million, and serve a five-year term of supervised release following his release from prison.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, Lebron worked as a loan officer and was also a Florida-licensed Realtor. Court documents say Lebron, working with another Realtor, started a company called EZ Investments as part of his scheme.

The release says Lebron would advertise the sale of nonexistent houses on hand-drawn signs placed in low-income neighborhoods to generate leads of people who were losing their homes in foreclosure. In his first deal, Lebron arranged for his sister to purchase a victim's home that was falling into foreclosure. Lebron served as the loan officer for the deal and received a mortgage broker's commission, despite putting another loan officer's name on the paperwork.

After his sister “bought” the house, Lebron paid the original mortgage for a short time to prevent the original homeowner from detecting the fraud. Lebron then arranged a short sale of the house to his brother-in-law. Six days later, using simultaneously recorded deeds, the property was resold to a “credit partner,” another straw purchaser, who Lebron had arranged to buy the house before the short sale proposal was submitted to the bank. This straw purchaser, unemployed, was added on to bank accounts to make it appear as if he had assets. They also used fake pay stubs to make it appear as if the buyer had income to pay the loan, the release says.

Once the sale was complete, Lebron and his co-conspirators took the money that should have gone to the original distressed homeowner. They also collected various commissions and fees from the transactions, in addition to pocketing the difference between the short sale amount and the new loan. According to the release, the straw purchasers were paid $5,000 each for their role in the scheme.

Lebron acquired four other loans through fraud, and during his conspiracies, used stolen and false identities, fraudulently verified his own employment by claiming jobs he never had and bought at least one property as his primary residence when he legally could not move into it. Lebron committed these crimes while on pretrial release and on probation, the release states.

“This case is particularly disturbing on several fronts,” says John Joyce, special agent in charge with the U.S. Secret Services, in the release. “Mr. Lebron and his cohorts knowingly took advantage of homeowners who were in financial distress in order to advance their own financial well being. Mr. Lebron had the audacity to commit these fraudulent acts while on probation and he also defaulted on $1.4 million in loans.”


Latest News


Special Offer: Only $1 Per Week For 1 Year!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.
Join thousands of executives who rely on us for insights spanning Tampa Bay to Naples.