How the feds saw the crime

Here, contained in a March 9 press release, is how the U.S. Attorney’s Office described John Leadbeater’s role in a $13 million mortgage fraud conspiracy that occurred between 2006 and 2008:

“Leadbeater and the conspirators located for purchase condominiums overbuilt by financially distressed developers in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest …. [and that they] recruited ‘straw buyers’ from New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Arkansas, and California, to purchase those properties.

“The straw buyers had good credit scores, but lacked the financial resources to qualify for the mortgage loans. The conspirators created false documents such as loan applications that contained fraudulent financial and employment information, to make the straw buyers appear more credit-worthy than they actually were in order the induce the lenders to make the loans.

“To prepare the straw buyers’ false loan applications, Leadbeater and his conspirators caused fraudulent loan applications in the name of the straw buyers to be submitted to mortgage brokers that the brokers knew were false, attributing to the straw buyers inflated income and assets. Once the loans were approved, Leadbeater and his conspirators created and signed fraudulent closing documents in order to induce the mortgage lenders to send the loan proceeds in connection with real estate closings on the properties. Once the mortgage lenders sent the loan proceeds, Leadbeater and his conspirators took a portion of the proceeds, having funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts they controlled. They also distributed a portion of the proceeds to the other members of the conspiracy for their respective roles.

“Leadbeater admitted to personally participating in fraudulent activity related to nine properties in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest. He admitted to causing mortgage lenders to fund $4,711,557 worth of mortgages based on false and fraudulent loan applications and closing documents prepared by him and his conspirators. As part of his guilty plea to the wire fraud conspiracy, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a charge of money laundering conspiracy.”

Thus far, 12 others of the alleged conspirators who, during 2013, pleaded guilty to roles in the scheme are awaiting sentencing. They are: Deborah Hanson, 52, of Sewell; Michele Martinez, 50, of Brick; Ernesto Rodriguez, 46, of Brick; Paul Watterson, 54, of Maplewood; Joel Tirado, 51, of Woodbridge; and Sweet Briar Development Corp. of New Jersey; John Bingaman, 45, of Benton, Ark.; Diana Wisniewski, 45, of Kings Park, N.Y.; Angela Celli, 42, of Somerset, Mass.; Robert Horton, 40, of Nashport, Ohio; Dana Rummerfield, 48, of Los Angeles, Calif.; and Justin Spradley, 37, of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Daniel Cardillo, 49, of Wildwood, who was charged in 2013 with Leadbeater with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, is scheduled to go to trial June 8.

The Observer Staff