Among five people charged in Alameda County Superior Court for an alleged statewide, $5 million bankruptcy fraud scheme are residents of Irvine, Newport Beach and Long Beach, according to a joint FBI and district attorney statement. The local defendants were identified as Thomas Powell, 33, of Newport Beach; Yamen Elasadi, 34, of Irvine; and Karl Robinson, 49, of Long Beach. The others are Michael Bachmeier, 44, of Lake Elsinore, and Jahi Kokayi, 43, of Studio City.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley and Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office Bill L. Lewis this week alleged the five were part of a "criminal operation" that targeted distressed homeowners by promising to delay foreclosures and evictions in exchange for cash up-front, followed by monthly fees.
What the supposed mortgage rescuers did not disclose to customers was the way they delayed the actions was by recording backdated and forged deeds of trust, according to the officials, who also accused the defendants of having filed false bankruptcies and sent copies to the trustees responsible for the sale of clients' properties, which resulted in delaying the sale of the home until the lender could get relief from the automatic stay caused by the bankruptcy filing.
Evidence includes signatures forged on deeds of trust and counterfeit notary stamps and forged notary signatures, according to the lawmen, whose complaint estimates victims were stung for $5 million from 2008-2010.
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The case unraveled after Robinson filed for bankruptcy under his own name, according to the authorities. He is now charged with one count of conspiracy to offer a false or forged instrument and 13 counts of offering a false and forged document for recordation.
Bachmeier, Powell and Elasadi face the same except for one fewer count each of offering a false and forged document for recordation. Kokayi, who was still at large when the charges were read, faces the same as Robinson except for 10 fewer counts of offering a false and forged document for recordation.
The agencies say they were assisted in the investigation by: the U.S. Office of Trustees; Federal Housing and Finance Administration - Office of Inspector General; the Riverside County Sheriff's Department; the Orange County Sheriff's Department; the Newport Beach Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department; and the United States Attorney's Office.