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Michigan Men Sentenced in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Christine Nyholm's picture

A former Flint area real estate broker and an appraiser has been sentenced in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme in Michigan, according to a press statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), released February 11, 2010.

Kurt Warren Heintz, 39, of Grand Blanc, Michigan, was sentenced on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 to 65 months in prison on one count of Financial Institute Fraud. At the same time, James Fish, 41, of Royal Oak, Michigan, was sentenced to 30 months in prison on one count of Financial Institution Fraud. The sentences were imposed by the Honorable Sean F. Cox, United States District Judge sitting in Detroit, Michigan.

Kurt Warren Heintz is the former owner of Great Lakes Broker Funding in Grand Blanc, Michigan. James Fish is a former real estate broker who was licensed in the State of Michigan. Both men pled guilty to a one count charge that they had devised and executed a scheme to defraud Indy Mac Bank through the use of a fraudulent mortgage application based on a false and inflated property appraisal.

Mr. Heintz and Mr. Fish agreed to be held responsible for the full extent of their scheme to defraud Flint area financial institutions, including Indy Mac Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Bank of America, Independent Bank, Mercantile Bank and Union Federal Bank. The fraud scheme began in May, 2005 and continued through 2007. The FBI reviewed of the mortgages obtained in the course of this scheme to defraud and calculated the loss to these and other lending institutions at more than $14.4 million.

In sentencing Heintz and Fish, Judge Cox carefully reviewed and summarized the facts of the case, as well as the background and circumstances of each defendant. Judge Cox expressed his “shock” that Mr. Heintz had chosen to devise and commit such a serious and devastating crime.

During the sentencing of Mr. Fish, Judge Cox said his sentence had been heavily influenced by the fact that Fish had stolen the identity of other appraisers and used them on fraudulent appraisals. In addition to the millions of dollars lost by lending institutions, Judge Cox noted that the fraud that these two men perpetrated had caused devastation to entire neighborhoods, the financial cost to unsuspecting purchasers and the damaged and destroyed careers of innocent appraisers.

In addition to their prison terms, the two men were ordered to pay restitution. Mr. Heintz was ordered to pay, jointly and severally with Mr. Fish, $14,467,546.50 in restitution to various financial institutions. Mr. Fish was ordered to pay, jointly and severally with Mr. Heintz, $4,992,400. Each man was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment and must serve three years of supervised release upon the completion of their custodial terms.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Arena made a statement underscoring the seriousness of mortgage fraud: “These charges and sentences underscore the seriousness with which the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, area financial institutions, as well as other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and regulators, view allegations of mortgage fraud. Mortgage fraud continues to have significant and devastating consequences for the Michigan economy. It is important that investors, consumers and real estate professionals, as well as the public in general, recognize that schemes to defraud involving mortgages and real estate transactions will result in the incarceration of the offenders."

The FBI initiated and investigated this mortgage fraud scheme.

Written by Christine Nyholm

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