A Huntington Beach man and his brother have been convicted of running a $15 million, nationwide foreclosure rescue scam that left a federal prosecutor saying, "Few white collar crimes are as cruel or as devastating to victims." Surf City's Jeremy Michael "Mike" Head, 33, and Charles Head, 36, formerly of Los Angeles and now a Pittsburg, Pa., resident, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two and four counts respectively of mail fraud.
A federal jury convicted both Thursday after a nearly four-week trial in Sacramento, where Mike Head is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 21. Charles Head, who was the leader of the scam, faces a second trial on additional counts in September.
The brothers operated Head Financial in Orange County, where between January 2004 and March 2006 they netted more than $15 million from scores of homeowner rubes, many in California.
They solicited people facing foreclosure with promises to save their homes and repair their credit. But then the Heads enlisted family and friends to serve as straw buyers who, unbeknownst to the relief seekers, wound up acquiring the titles to the houses.
The Heads squeezed all the equity out of the homes, which along with the rent the original mortgage holders paid them was split between the brothers and the straw buyers. Those who had turned to Head Financial for help were left in the end with no equity, no homes and damaged credit.
"The Head brothers preyed on the victims' fear of losing their homes, and then took advantage of those victims' predicament to steal from them their last remaining equity in those homes, enriching themselves in the process," U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a statement. "As a result of their conduct, many of the victims who looked to the Head brothers for help were evicted and left destitute. Few white collar crimes are as cruel or as devastating to victims."
"Charles and Jeremy Michael Head knowingly exploited and victimized homeowners who feared the imminent loss of their homes to foreclosure," added Manuel Alvarez Jr., the acting special agent in charge of the Sacramento Division of the FBI.
"The defendants in this case quite literally stole the American Dream of owning a home from many people," observed José Martínez, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.
Half of the 10 others who have pleaded guilty in this case are from Orange County. Scheduled for a July 24 hearing regarding their sentences are: Elham Assadi, a.k.a. Elham Assadi Jouzani, a.k.a. Ely Assadi, 33, of Irvine; Akemi Bottari, 31, of Los Angeles; Sarah Mattson, 30, of Phoenix; Omar Sandoval, 35, of Rancho Cucamonga; Xochitl Sandoval, 32, of Rancho Cucamonga; Andrew Vu, 42, of Santa Ana; Justin Wiley, 31, of Irvine; Kou Yang, 35, of Corona; and John Corcoran, a.k.a. Jack Corcoran, 55, of Anaheim. Leonard Bernot, 54, of Laguna Hills, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 10.
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Domonic McCarns, 36, of Brea; Joshua Coffman, 32, of North Hollywood; and Anh Nguyen, 39, of Los Angeles, have trials scheduled to begin in November.
Charles Head's second trial involves the operation of another "equity-stripping" scheme that allegedly stole $5.9 million in equity from 68 homeowners nationwide through the use of straw buyers recruited via the Internet.
Among six others indicted in that case are Brea's McCarns and Lisa Vang, 27, of Westminster. Yang and Anaheim's Corcoran already pleaded guilty in that case.