Jury Convicts Las Vegas Homebuilder of Fraud

LAS VEGAS -- A federal jury on Friday convicted a Las Vegas area homebuilder for selling houses at inflated prices to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans and defrauding banks and lenders of more than $8 million, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.

Paul Wagner, 56, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, six counts of bank fraud and three count of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 14, and he faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each count.

"Over 140 persons have been convicted of mortgage fraud offenses in Nevada since 2008," Bogden said. "Most of those persons are now serving time in federal prison. Mr. Wagner is the first home builder to be prosecuted and convicted."

Wagner was a home builder in Las Vegas for roughly 20 years, the last 10 of which was spent building tract homes in the northwest Las Vegas valley. From 2007 to 2009, Wagner provided large cash incentives to buyers, real estate agents and others to sell his homes. The incentives included paying buyers' mortgage payments for several months, making large cash payments to real estate agents to find buyers for his homes, and paying buyers' down payments.

Wagner inflated the value of the homes by causing appraisers to create false appraisals. He concealed the incentives from the lenders, who would not have made the loans had they known about his methods. Using this scheme, Wagner sold 78 houses from March 2007 to mid-2009. Many of the homes went into foreclosure after Wagner stopped making the mortgage payments.

The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel  Schiess.

 


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