Jury Finds All Four Guilty On All Counts In Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Four California Loan Officers were found guilty for operating a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme. Olga Palamarchuk, Pyotr Bondaruk, Vera Zhiry and Peter Kuzmenko, 37 were found guilty by a federal jury of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, related to a mortgage fraud scheme. Palamarchuk and Bondaruk were also found guilty of making false statements to a financial institution and money laundering. Zhiry was also found guilty of money laundering.
According to evidence presented at trial, Palamarchuk, a loan officer at Capital Mortgage Lending Inc., recruited Bondaruk to purchase two houses using 100 percent financing and to refinance and obtain a home equity line of credit on one of the houses. In order to qualify for the loans, Palamarchuk and Bondaruk submitted fraudulent loan applications to lenders, falsely stating Bondaruk’s employment, income, assets, and intent to occupy the homes as his primary residence.
In addition, the defendants fraudulently inflated the value of the properties and diverted the excess funds to themselves as part of the mortgage fraud scheme. For example, Peter Kuzmenko received $32,378 in seller’s proceeds for landscaping and pool work his company Pete’s Pool Service purportedly performed on a house that didn’t have a pool. Similarly, Zhiry received $100,000 to pay off a purported debt owed by the sellers that the sellers denied existed, and Zhiry provided $40,000 of that money back to Olga Palamarchuk.
In February, Peter Kuzmenko was found guilty in a separate mortgage fraud scheme in this district. (2:11-cr-210-JAM) He is currently in custody.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Lee S. Bickley and Heiko P. Coppola are prosecuting the case.
The defendants’ sentencing is set for October 1, 2015, before United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley. The defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and making false statements to a financial institution, 10 years in prison for money laundering, and a $1 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.