Friday, January 22, 2010

Ladera Ranch Lawyer and Partners Face 70 Years for Fraud Charges in Loan Modification Scam

Posted by CotoBlogzz 1-22-2010 11:00 AM

SANTA ANA, CA  - Christopher Lee Diener and  his business partner have been arrested on charges of defrauding over 400 victims in a $1.25 million loan modification scam that targeted distressed homeowners. A warrant has been issued for another business partner in this case. Former attorney Christopher Lee Diener, 42, and business partners Stefano Joseph Marrero, 40, and Terrence Green Sr., 43, all neighbors in Ladera Ranch, are each charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit grand theft and 97 felony counts of grand theft by false pretense with sentencing enhancements for white collar crime and excessive taking. If convicted, the defendants face a sentence ranging from probation up to 70 years in state prison.

Diener and Green were arrested this morning and are being held on $1.5 million bail each. They must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. They are expected to be arraigned Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. A $1.5 million warrant has been issued for Marrero.

Beginning in March 2008, the defendants are accused of defrauding hundreds of victims by targeting distressed homeowners and offering loan modification services in exchange for advance payment. Marrero and Green were business partners and Diener acted as attorney for their businesses. The three defendants are neighbors in Ladera Ranch and are accused of operating loan modification businesses under the names Home Relief Services, LLC, US Loan Mod Processing, HRS Communications, The Diener Law Firm, and Diener Law Group.

The defendants are accused of making false statements to entice customers to use their loan modification services by stating that they could guarantee loan modifications, negotiate lower interest rates with lenders and reduce the principal owed on a customer's mortgage, have second mortgages eliminated or forgiven, and have late fees forgiven by the lenders. They are accused of falsely stating that they could complete the loan modification process in less than 90 days, claiming to have a 90 percent success rate in modifying loans, and offering a 100 percent money-back guarantee if the loan could not be modified.

The defendants are accused of requiring their customers to pay in advance prior to rendering any service and failing to provide the services offered. In total, they are accused of fraudulently taking $1.25 million, including over $350,000 to credit card companies who had to refund cardholders to compensate for the fraud.

The defendants are also accused of soliciting the referral of clients in exchange for payment by approaching local and national real estate brokers and professionals and promising to pay them referral fees for each customer referred. They are accused of traveling to a mortgage bankers' convention in Las Vegas to solicit referrals from industry professionals with the promise of payment.

As a result of the loan modification scam, the California Department of Real Estate took action against Marrero and Green in February 2009, issuing a desist and refrain order related to soliciting clients.  In October 2009, Diener was involuntarily enrolled as an inactive member of the State Bar of California after the state bar found that his conduct posed "a substantial threat of harm to his clients or the public" stemming from this loan modification scam. The California Attorney General filed for civil penalties against the three defendants related to this scam, seeking restitution and an injunction from further illegal practices.

This case has been a collaborative effort between the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the State Bar of California, the Department of Real Estate, and the California Attorney General's Office.

Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Ron Frazier at (714) 347-8691. Deputy District Attorney George McFetridge of the White Collar Crime Team is prosecuting this case.

2 comments:

Marjorie said...

Voters Be Aware! Jerry Brown is a liar!!!
I consider my self a very savvy person and when I saw that Jerry Brown was doing against load modification scammer I was interested to say the least. But as I’m researching more I’ve notice that he is using this lawyers names creating cases against them with FALSE information and paying people to come with FALSE accusations against lawyers for the only purpose of creating his political campaign I was absolutely disgusted.
California State Attorney is using his position and abusing his power, he is creating a false sense or security in all of us. DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM!!!! Most of this attorneys are being wrongly accused of things they did not do. If he is doing this to them to get ahead imagine what he is willing to do to the rest of the community.
Jerry Brown doesn’t care if you got scammed or not what he cares is that he generates publicity so he can win election votes all on our tax dollars time. He is not fighting for you or me he is fighting for a political office. HE IS THE REAL SCAMMER!! Don’t fall for all this publicity this is what he is looking for.

CotoBlogzz said...

Marjorie:

Seems that for a savvy person, you write more about a conspiracy theory than about the substance of the story: Are you saying the OCDA is in cahoots with the AG?