Orange County white collar swindler Kevin Frank Rasher hoped he'd receive a punishment of no more than 41 months in prison for defrauding 516 financially-distressed Southern California homeowners, but U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton didn't believe that requested time fit the crime.
Inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, Staton ordered Rasher, a 46-year-old resident of upscale Coto de Caza, to spend 97 months in federal custody and then undergo supervised probation for three more years upon his release.
That punishment represents the maximum possible punishment according to sentencing guidelines available to the President Barack Obama-appointed judge, who agreed at a Sept. 29 hearing with U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors that Rasher's financial crimes targeted particularly "vulnerable victims" and thus deserved a greater loss of freedom.
Using Youtube and Internet sales pitches from 2011 to March 2016, the defendant claimed he could reduce peoples' mortgage payments, directed targets to send monthly checks to him as a middleman negotiator for modified deals and, instead of working with lenders, deposited more than $2.4 million of those funds into his personal bank accounts.
Part of Rasher's ruse involved falsely portraying himself as a licensed attorney as well as an official with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and using HUD in the name of one of his fraudulent websites, according to DOJ officials.
FBI agents reported Rasher, who leased a $10,200 per month home, adopted aliases such as Kevin Fox, Kevin Carter and David Henry Lopez.
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One victim told Staton that the swindler presented himself as a "reputable person who had our best interests in mind," but turned out to be "a heartless criminal," who caused "serious psychological and financial" harm.
"[Rasher] knowingly took advantage of our predicament to seek personal gain," he stated.
In May, the defendant signed a federal plea agreement, admitting to 12 mail fraud counts in exchange for prosecutors dropping nine additional charges.
The Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) has an open state case against Rasher too.