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PRESS RELEASE: Valley Pair, Michele Mitchell and Jeremy Pratt Plead Guilty to $5.3 Million Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

U.S. Attorney’s Office
April 03, 2012

District of Arizona
(602) 514-7500

Valley Pair Plead Guilty to $5.3 Million Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

PHOENIX—A Valley mortgage broker and her former associate have each admitted to conspiring to commit a multiple-transaction mortgage fraud that federal law enforcement calculates resulted in a loss to defrauded financial institutions of approximately $5,300,000. Michele Mitchell, 45, of Glendale, Arizona, entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in federal court on April 2, 2012. Jeremy Pratt, 33, also of Glendale, had previously entered his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on January 13, 2012.

Mitchell held herself out to be a mortgage broker, loan officer, and real estate investor. She was president of Golden Opportunity Investments, which was located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Pratt operated a construction and remodeling company, Arizona Cooling Control Plus. Both admitted that between May 2005, and February 2007, they conspired to recruit straw buyers with good credit scores to purchase residential properties for purported investment purposes. In order to qualify for mortgage financing, they had the straw buyers submit loan applications and supporting documents that misrepresented their incomes, assets, liabilities, employment status, and intent to occupy the premises. At the close of escrow, Mitchell and Pratt obtained a portion of the loan proceeds as “cash back” to be used for mortgage payments and for their own personal enrichment.

Mitchell and Pratt each admitted that their fraudulent scheme resulted in the purchase of at least 17 residential properties by obtaining loans from financial institutions in the total amount of nearly $17 million. The residential properties were located in the Valley cities of Glendale, Scottsdale, Surprise, Goodyear, and Peoria. All 17 properties went into foreclosure when neither Mitchell nor the straw buyers made the necessary mortgage payments. The total amount of “cash back” fraudulently obtained by Mitchell and Pratt from these transactions was $2.46 million and federal law enforcement calculates the loss to the financial institutions, that is, the difference between the total loan amounts and the total sales prices obtained at foreclosure sales, at approximately $5.3 million.

A conviction for conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Pratt’s plea agreement provides that his sentence will not exceed 24 months. Mitchell’s plea agreement contains no such restriction. In determining an actual sentence, the court will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. United States District Judge James A. Teilborg, however, is bound by neither the plea agreement nor the guidelines in determining a sentence.

Pratt is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Teilborg on May 29, 2012. Mitchell is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Teilborg on June 18, 2012.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations. The prosecution is being handled by Frank T. Galati, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

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About FREDERICA CADE

The fellow that can only see a week ahead is always the popular fellow, for he is looking with the crowd. But the one that can see years ahead, he has a telescope but he can't make anybody believe that he has it. ~~~~Will Rogers __The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.~ Albert Einstein _________________________________________I'm a Citizen that takes Politics seriously. I Research and try to Blog or Post things you don't normally hear. Do we want Politics involving Smoke and Mirrors or the Truth? fredericacade@gmail.com_______________________________________________ ~"I never work better than when I am inspired by anger; for when I am angry, I can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understandingsharpen​ed, and all mundane vexations and temptations depart.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. _________________________________________________________________________________________ ~"The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment".~___________________________________ George Washington, Address to the Members of the Volunteer Association of Ireland, December 2, 1783

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