A Sacramento-area developer and an escrow officer were indicted on multiple counts of fraud for a scheme that cheated three banks of at least $20 million, the U.S. District Attorney Benjamin Wagner announced Thursday.
Developer Abolghasseni "Abe" Alizadeh and Placer Title Company senior escrow officer Mary Sue Weaver each face six counts of wire fraud, nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of bank fraud and three counts of making a false statement to a federally insured institution.
According to the indictment, beginning about June 2004 and going through about April 2008, Alizadeh, on behalf of his Kobra Properties, entered into contracts to purchase undeveloped commercial property at one price and then highly inflated the purchase prices to banks to obtain loans. Alizadeh wrote checks to Placer Title Company for the amount in the purported down payment on the land being purchased. Weaver is accused of delaying deposit of those checks until escrow closed and then disbursed monies from the title company's escrow accounts to Kobra Properties. Kobra Properties then used those funds to cover the checks which Weaver then deposited.
In some cases, Weaver is also alleged to have taken money from other Placer Title escrow accounts and written checks payable to Kobra Properties to cover Kobra's closing costs. She also is accused of manipulating Placer TItle settlement documents on the properties that didn't reflect the true costs of the transactions.
The properties that Alizadeh bought at one price but were transacted at another price were Arena Corporate Center (actual price: $3,612,158, price on loan agreement: $4,816,211.40); Alta Sierra Estates #13, Lot 1 (actual price: $937,500, loan agreement price $1,2000,000); Blue Oaks and Woodcreek Oaks Boulevard (actual price: $4,138,200, loan agreement price $5,662,800); Loomis Marketplace (Turtle Island) (actual price $10,000,000, loan agreement price $21,954,240); 3963 Missouri Flats Road (actual price: $950,000, loan agreement price: $1,600,000) and Promenade at Natomas, Parcels 8 & 9 (actual price: $2,533,640, loan agreement price: $4,393,000).
If convicted of the charges, Alizadeh and Weaver would be ordered to forfeiture the property and/or a sum of money equal to the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the offenses.
Each one of the counts against the defendants carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison, fines up to $1,000,000 or both fine and imprisonment, and supervised released up to five years.
At one time, the indictment noted Alizadeh owned or controlled multiple real estate holdings, including more than 70 Jack and the Box restaurants and 10 other restaurants in Northern California worth as estimated $1 billion.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Allison Claire ordered Alizadeh and Weaver held without bail pending their first court appearance.