Mortgage Company President Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Ginnie Mae
BOSTON – The president and founder of a Falmouth mortgage company pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with defrauding the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) out of approximately $2.5 million.
Robert Pena, 68, of Falmouth, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and six counts of wire fraud. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for Jan. 5, 2018.
Pena was president and founder of the now-defunct mortgage company, Mortgage Security Inc. (MSI), which contracted with Ginnie Mae, a government-run corporation charged with making housing more affordable by injecting capital into the U.S. housing market. Ginnie Mae guarantees the timely payment of principal and interest to investors in bonds backed by government-sponsored mortgage loans, such as those offered by the Federal Housing Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
MSI contracted with Ginnie Mae to pool eligible residential mortgage loans and then sell Ginnie Mae-backed mortgage bonds to investors. MSI was responsible for servicing the loans in the pools it created, including collecting principal and interest payments from borrowers, as well as loan payoffs, and placing those funds into accounts held in trust by Ginnie Mae, which would ultimately pass them along to investors. Among other things, Ginnie Mae required issuers like MSI to provide regular reports concerning the status of the loans in the pools.
Beginning in 2011, Pena began diverting money that borrowers were sending to MSI. Specifically, Pena deposited high-dollar, loan-payoff checks into bank accounts unknown to Ginnie Mae and then used those funds for personal and business expenses. Pena also diverted borrowers’ escrow funds and mortgage-insurance premiums for his own use. In total, Pena took approximately $2.5 million, which Ginnie Mae then had to pay to the investors whose investments it had guaranteed. Pena also attempted to cover up his scheme by providing false reports to Ginnie Mae about the status of the loans MSI was servicing.
The charging statues provide for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General; and the Falmouth Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian LaMacchia of Weinreb’s Civil Division is prosecuting the case.