Nine Arrested in Mortgage Fraud Scheme, Suspects Include La Mirada, HG residents

By Randy Economy

Nine area residents, including suspects from La Mirada and Hawaiian Gardens have been arrested and charged with numerous felony counts involving a fraudulent mortgage scheme.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials announced that between October 2007 and June 2009, Gerard Bueno, operating as Pres Mex, Inc., and Jesus Vega Jr., operating as JVJ, Inc., are accused of defrauding CitiMortage and MetLife Bank out of $2.3 million.

The alleged mortgage loan scheme focuses on Bueno and Vega Jr. who obtained titles to six residential properties in Los Angeles County by various means.

According to a statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, they then obtained loans against the properties in the names of straw buyers, two of which were identity theft victims, and in effect “sold” the properties to themselves at inflated prices that they themselves set.

Bueno and Vega Jr. recruited friends, family members and acquaintances to act as straw buyers, provided stolen identities, provided false bank account verifications, provided false employment information, and notarized documents when signers were not present.

Bueno and Vega Jr. split the profits from the fraudulent sales, and paid the other suspects for the aforementioned acts. All six fraudulently obtained loans that went into default.

Then last week, the suspects were charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles Superior Court and warrants were issued for their arrests.

The suspects are identified as follows:  Gerard A. Bueno, 35, from La Habra Heights, Jesus Vega Jr., 28, from Hacienda Heights, Andres Victoria, 26, from Albany, New York, Alejandro Valdelamar, 44, from Long Beach, Jose Carlos Henriquez, 42, from Lynwood, George H. Kent, 66, from La Mirada, Laura Garcia, 31, from Paramount, Beatriz Miranda, 56, from Hawaiian Gardens and Michael Palomares, 27, from Compton.

The charges in this case include multiple counts of Grand Theft, Identity Theft, Forgery, and Procuring or Offering False or Forged Instruments. Suspect Valdelamar was arrested at his home by Long Beach Police Officers on April 12, 2012.

Miranda was arrested at her house in Hawaiian Gardens, while Kent was picked up by authorities at his residence in La Mirada.

Suspects Bueno and Vega Jr. surrendered to the court and were taken into custody on April 17, 2012. Suspect Victoria was arrested in Albany, New York, by Albany Police Officers on April 18, 2012, and is awaiting extradition to California.

The investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Commercial Crimes Bureau Real Estate Fraud Team and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General.

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