This article was on My San Antonio .com and is a good read:
A former Bexar County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for a small role he had in a $50 million mortgage-fraud case.
Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery allowed George Autobee to be released on bond for the holidays after accepting his guilty plea. Autobee, 48, admitted being a straw buyer in a scheme allegedly led by a Dallas man accused of bilking lenders out of $50 million.
Autobee, responding to the judge's questions, acknowledged having problems in jail since he was sent there a year ago following a drug conviction.
Autobee was a Bexar County sheriff's deputy for 18 years and helped cripple the Texas Mexican Mafia during a gang crackdown in 2004. But he was caught buying methamphetamine from a federal informant in March 2008, which ended his police career.
He was sentenced to five years probation for the drug offense. After dodging jail because he used meth once again, he was sent to jail in June 2010 when he and 21 others were indicted in San Antonio as part of a nationwide sweep by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service called “Operation Stolen Dreams.”
The indictment alleges Robert Brooks of Dallas used several title and mortgage brokerage companies in a “flipping” scheme that caused lenders to dole out $50 million in mortgages that went into default.
All 22 were charged in the nine-count indictment with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, while Brooks and some of the others are also charged with specific incidents of mail fraud.
The indictment said that, from May 17, 2005, through Feb. 21, 2008, Brooks obtained properties at or about market value, then offered people $10,000 to $25,000 each to act as straw buyers for the homes at inflated prices.
Using falsified documents, Brooks obtained mortgage loans for the straw buyers, then let the mortgages go into default a year later, the indictment alleges.
Brooks, the indictment said, hid from lenders that the proceeds from the sale of homes went to him. The difference between the actual value of the properties and the inflated prices was about $20 million.
Many of the homes are condominiums in the Dallas area, but some of the falsified documents for the loans were mailed to brokers in San Antonio.
Brooks' scheme, the indictment alleges, was aided by appraisers, a lawyer, title officers, escrow officers, mortgage processors and others who helped submit false documentation and information to lenders.
Autobee, who invested in real estate at the time, admitted falsifying information on mortgage-loan applications that helped further the conspiracy. Of the 22, five have pleaded guilty or signed plea deals.
Autobee faces up to 30 years in prison when Biery sentences him in March, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Harris.