Law enforcement officers among those accused of mortgage fraud in Broward County

Eight current or former law enforcement officers have been indicted on charges in connection with mortgage fraud in Broward County, the Miami Herald reported.

It is the second time in recent months that law enforcement officers have been accused of mortgage fraud in South Florida. As our Miami fraud lawyers reported recently on our Miami Criminal Attorney Blog, a former Cape Coral police officer, who is the son of the current police chief, was accused of money laundering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud in connection with a real estate fraud scheme.

In this case, a network of Broward County attorneys, law enforcement officers and mortgage brokers are accused of falsifying numerous documents to obtain $16.5 million in loans. The money was used to buy property during the real estate boom. Authorities say the scheme was masterminded by a former Plantation police officer, who recruited five other current and former police officers from that city, as well as a Lauderhill officer and an FBI agent. They allegedly acted as buyers who pledged to purchase and live in 38 condos and homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

As our Miami real estate lawyers continue to report, fraud prosecutions are reaching record levels in South Florida. Having loaned money to anyone with a pulse, with little or no effort to verify income or other information on an application, the banks are now crying foul amid plummeting property values and thousands of mortgage foreclosures in South Florida. In some of these cases, defendants are guilty of nothing more than being caught up in the unprecedented collapse of the real estate market, or of making bad investments. Hiring aggressive and experienced legal representation will be critical to protecting their rights.

The defendants in this case were arrested Wednesday and accused of submitting false income records, job descriptions, bank statements and loan applications to scam lenders in South Florida from 2004 to 2007. Their goal, according to the indictment, was to rent the properties and then sell them for a profit. Several attorneys are accused of falsely representing the source of the down payments. Two other mortgage brokers and a processor were also charged.

In all, 13 defendants were charged, include eight current or former law enforcement officers. One of the defendants is an FBI agent. The investigation began in 2007 after the Plantation Police Department began to suspect several of its officers might be involved in mortgage fraud and requested an investigation through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.