A California escrow officer was sentenced this week to 14 years and 6 months in prison for her involvement in a $17 million mortgage fraud scheme.

The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) announced to conviction of Rachel Siders, 41, of Roseville, after federal juries returned verdicts in two separate trials finding her guilty of multiple counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, making a false loan application, and committing aggravated identity theft.

Siders, who ran the Rocklin office of the escrow company used on the majority of the transactions operated the fraud involving over 30 properties from mid-2006 through early 2008 with multiple co-defendants such as California Realtor, Vera Kuzmenko, 46, of Loomis.

The defendants secured more than $30 million in fraudulent home loans using straw buyers. Kuzmenko received millions of dollars in the scam, and Siders received hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the USDOJ.

In one case, Sider and her co-defendant Theo Adams, 50, applied for a home equity line of credit on Adam’s home using a straw mortgage borrower who was a relative of Adams. They lied on the loan application and submitted numerous false documents so the bank would provide a $250,000 line of credit.

Siders walked away with $170,000 in cash, and after making a few payments, they defaulted on the loan.

“The sentence today reflects the seriousness of Siders’ crimes, which included participation in two separate mortgage fraud schemes. Over the course of two years, Siders oversaw and participated in numerous fraudulent loans and diverted money into shell accounts for her own benefit. She abused her position as an escrow officer and as a notary public to make this criminal enterprise succeed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “The sentence imposed is a significant reminder that those who engage in such conduct will be held accountable.”

“Today’s sentence sends a clear message; anyone profits from fraudulent mortgage transactions—whether by creating the scheme or facilitating it—will not escape justice,” said Supervisory Special Agent Dan Bryant at the FBI Sacramento field office. “The FBI aggressively pursues those involved in such large-scale, complex financial fraud matters to seek justice for the victims and protect the regional economy.”

“Rachel Siders was driven by greed in her participation in this mortgage fraud which targeted the Sacramento area,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS‑Criminal Investigation. “Today’s sentencing is a reminder how serious our courts consider this criminal activity and our commitment in providing financial expertise to our federal partners in these types of crimes.”

Vera Kuzmenko was already to 14 years in prison for multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and witness tampering. Theo Adams was sentenced to two years in prison.

Peter Kuzmenko, 38, of West Sacramento, to 19 years in prison; Aaron New, 42, of Sacramento, to 11 years and three months in prison; Nadia Kuzmenko, 37, formerly of Loomis, to eight years in prison; and Edward Shevtsov, 52, of North Highlands, to eight years in prison. They were found guilty on February 13, 2015, after a 21-day trial, of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud associated with the mortgage fraud scheme.

Erik Sandstrom
LoanSafe's Mortgage Expert
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