Riverside, California– A Seal Beach man who operated a bogus mortgage rescue scheme – in which he made false promises to dozens distressed homeowners, filed fraudulent bankruptcies to delay foreclosure and rented the properties to third parties as the foreclosure proceedings were delayed – was sentenced today to eight years in federal prison.
Terry Meisinger, 75, was sentenced by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who rejected Meisinger's arguments that his age merited a lower sentence. Judge Phillips noted that, even if Meisinger was released from prison when he was 80 years old, he would still pose a danger to the public.
Judge Phillips also ordered Meisinger to pay $1.5 million in restitution to his victims.
Meisinger pleaded guilty in October to two counts of wire fraud.
“This man earned significant profits as the result of his scheme – profits that came as the result of significant financial harm inflicted upon victims,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This scheme operated for years and continued after my office filed a civil lawsuit and he was ordered to cease his fraudulent activities. This trail of victims, most of whom lost their homes, has earned this defendant the lengthy prison term imposed today.”
When he pleaded guilty, Meisinger specifically admitted that he defrauded a distressed homeowner by inducing him to sign a quitclaim in exchange for promises that included negotiating a short-sale agreement with his lender that would free the homeowner from his mortgage on a property in North Las Vegas, Nevada. But, instead, Meisinger caused a deed of trust to be recorded on the property, which was followed by a fraudulent bankruptcy on behalf of the person who supposedly now held an interest in the home. Meanwhile, Meisinger rented out the home to another person while foreclosure proceedings were stayed as a result of the fraudulent bankruptcy.
Meisinger “repeated the process of causing the recording of deeds of trusts in the names of various beneficiaries whose identities he controlled and causing the filing of bankruptcies on behalf of those lenders to delay the foreclosure proceedings, while collecting rents” on property in North Las Vegas, according to the plea agreement filed in this case.
In papers filed in relation to today's sentencing, prosecutors said that there were more than 250 victims of the scheme, including homeowners, lenders, and renters. Meisinger “collected more than $1.5 million in illicit rent payments on more than 100 properties. Further, he caused more than 300 bogus bankruptcy petitions to be filed in the names of numerous individuals who had no knowledge their identity was being used.”
Meisinger also admitted that his illegal conduct violated Judge Phillips' court order in a prior civil matter barring Meisinger from participating in the home finance or real estate industries for 10 years (see:http://go.usa.gov/3Sr23). In that order, Meisinger was also barred from filing bankruptcy petitions. Judge Phillips additionally imposed a $5 million civil fine on Meisinger.
“HUD-OIG continues to vigilantly protect FHA insured borrowers from those who conduct fraudulent loan modification schemes. This significant sentence demonstrates our commitment to protecting HUD's important work in providing affordable home ownership,” said James Todak, Special Agent in Charge of Housing and Urban Development's Office of the Inspector General.
The criminal case against Meisinger is the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG).
USAO – California, Central Updated December 22, 2015
Central District of California DOJ / 15-158 / December 21, 2015