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Mortgage Co. Owner Pleads Guilty

Straw-Buyer Multimillion-Dollar Scheme Busted

Alexandria, Va. - (Sept. 24, 2008) Gohar J. Mirza, age 29, of Annandale, Virginia, pled guilty today to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme. Chuck Rosenberg, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Guy J. Cottrell, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division; and Joseph Persichini, Jr. Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. Mirza faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on December 19, 2008. According to the terms of the plea agreement, he must also pay full restitution to the victims of his fraud.

According to court documents, Mirza was an owner and operator of E-Star Lending, Inc., a mortgage brokerage company located in Burke and Annandale, Virginia. From approximately April 2005 through July 2008, Mirza and his co-conspirators profited by selling residential real estate in the Northern Virginia area to individuals referred to as “straw buyers.” Mirza and his co-conspirators, through E-Star, helped the straw buyers obtain 100% mortgage financing to purchase the properties. To obtain the mortgage financing, the conspirators produced fraudulent loan applications which included materially false statements related to the buyers’ employment, income, immigration status, and intent to occupy the properties as primary residences. The straw buyers frequently defaulted on these mortgages, causing losses to banks and commercial lenders in excess of $2,500,000.

Separately, on September 19, 2008, Walter F. Contreras, a loan officer for E-Star Lending, was arraigned before United States District Judge T.S. Ellis, III, on the charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. According to the indictment, Contreras recruited straw buyers to the scheme and caused fraudulent mortgage applications to be prepared in their names. Contreras’s case is set to be tried on November 19, 2008.

These cases are being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Edmund P. Power is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.

SOURCE: United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia

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