Late last week a fomer real estate agent who had been the target of an FBI investigation and subsequently indicted in 2009 has learned his fate.
Ruben Rojas and his family led a real estate and mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in losses to lenders to the tune of $9 Million Dollars. Many of the homes that they were involved in flipping or tearing down to rebuild large McMansions subsquently turned into boarding homes in older Springfield neighborhoods.
It was those boarding houses that led to complaints by neighborhood citizen groups which unraveled the mortgage fraud and subsequently the arrest of close to 20 people including Ruben Rojas his sister-in-law, Litcia Linares, his sister Lourdes Rojas Almanza and his two brothers Grovert Rojas and Jaime Nino Rojas.
Prosecutors were surprised when the judge sentenced Rojas to 5 years in prison and 5 years of supervised release. More than the recommended sentence. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $9.5 million. A lawful permanent resident from Bolivia, Rojas will be turned over to immigration authorities for deportation proceedings following his release from prison.
The results of the Rojas scheme can been seen by anyone driving through neighborhoods in Springfield. Most of the homes involved in the transactions have gone into foreclosure or have been sold as short sales. The 30 transactions included in the indictment amount to $24 Million in illegal loans received with bogus documents created by the Rojas group.
Though the sentencing will not fix the sharp decline of home values in central Springfield, nor will it fix the blight that the McMansions leave among the older smaller homes but it should send a message to other agents who were involved in mortgage scams and flipping schemes. The FBI and local authorites aren't going to let you off lightly when your day in court arrives.