[UPDATED:] Trabuco Canyon's Lila Rizk Guilty in Massive Real Estate Fraud
UPDATE: At her sentencing in a Los Angeles federal court today, Trabuco Canyon's Lila Rizk received a three-year prison term for her role in a massive mortgage fraud scheme that caused tens of millions of dollars in losses to federally insured banks.
A federal jury on Aug. 12 convicted a licensed real estate appraiser from Trabuco Canyon of conspiracy, bank fraud and numerous loan fraud charges related to a massive mortgage fraud scheme that caused more than $40 million in losses to federally insured banks, the FBI announced.
Lila Rizk, 43, had stood trial for five weeks alongside prominent Beverly Hills real estate agent Kyle Grasso, 38, formerly of Santa Monica, when the jury handed down its decision, which found Grasso guilty of the same charges as well as three counts of money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 19.
The scheme's leader, developer Charles Elliott Fitzgerald, 48, formerly of Newbury Park and Beverly Hills, has already been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
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U.S. District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson presided.
The man who helped orchestrate the scheme alongside Fitzgerald, mortgage broker Mark Alan Abrams, 47, of Los Angeles, has pleaded guilty and awaits an April 12 sentencing hearing.
A third defendant who went to trial, Joseph Babajian, a 56-year-old Westside real estate agent, is to be sentenced on Feb. 22.
Mortgage banker Thomas R. Schiff, 47, of Brentwood, was previously sentenced to six months in prison.
Other Orange County real estate professionals who have pleaded guilty in the scheme include: Jamieson Matykowski, 35, of Laguna Niguel, who found houses for the scheme and is to be sentenced March 29; escrow officer Timothy Holland, 37, of Santa Ana, who is to be sentenced July 19; and appraiser L. Scott Robinson, 46, of Dana Point, who has an April 2 sentencing date. Mortgage banker Richard Maize, 54, of Beverly Hills, and loan processor Nicole LaViolette, 38, of Palm Springs, have also pleaded guilty. They are to be sentenced June 28 and June 14 respectively.
An investigation by the FBI and IRS discovered members of the conspiracy sent false documentation, including bogus purchase contracts and appraisals, to the victim banks to deceive them into unwittingly funding mortgage loans that were hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than the homes actually cost. Homes in some of Southern California's most-expensive neighborhoods were targeted.
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