HOUSTON — Three other co-conspirators have been arrested on charges related to multi-level mortgage fraud, credit repair and a government loan fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Jennifer B Lowery said.
Heather Ann Campos, David Lewis Best Jr. and Stephen Laverne Crabtree had eluded law enforcement for several months.
Campos, 43, of Houston, is scheduled for a detention hearing before U.S. Judge Dena H. Palermo at 10 a.m. today.
All three reportedly sent numerous letters from sovereign citizens to federal agencies and the federal court in Houston declaring themselves immune from prosecution and refusing to recognize the authority of the federal courts.
Campos and Best were indicted in January on numerous charges of participating in a conspiracy to defraud mortgage companies, banks, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They said they would surrender but would have fled from law enforcement. Since that date, several other accomplices have been charged, including Crabtree. He was released on bail and also became a fugitive.
Those charged include Steven Tetsuya Morizono, 59, Mission Viejo, Calif.; Albert Lugene Lim, 53, Laguna Niguel, Calif.; Melinda Moreno Munoz, 41, Elvina Buckley, 68, Leslie Edrington, 65, and ShyAnne Edrington, 29, all from Houston.
The charges allege that Campos and Best recruited clients for credit repair using the company names of KMD Credit, KMD Capital and Jeff Funding, among others. They allegedly “cleaned up” their customers’ credit histories by filing false identity theft reports with the FTC. After fraudulently inflating clients’ creditworthiness, the co-conspirators fraudulently obtained credit cards, disaster loans and mortgages for themselves and their clients, the charges allege. They could have achieved this through false declarations and false documents.
Campos was a mortgage broker and Buckley a real estate agent, while the notary was the responsibility of Munoz, according to the charges. After fraudulently inflating clients’ creditworthiness, the individuals allegedly obtained rental properties to deceptively build a real estate portfolio worth millions of dollars on behalf of their clients and profit from the rental income. The charges allege that Crabtree was a credit repair customer and recruited others, including family members, and conspired to commit wire fraud.
In addition, they reportedly got loans from banks and the SBA’s Economic Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program. They were created on behalf of clients, friends and family members through false statements and false or altered documents.
Under the pseudonym Jeff, Morizono was the leader and namesake of the scheme claiming to do business as Jeff Funding, according to the charges.
If convicted, they all face up to 30 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $1 million.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General (OIG), US Postal Inspection Service, Housing and Urban Development – OIG and SBA – OIG conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FTC – OIG and IRS – Criminal Investigation.
Other agencies assisted in the arrests of Campos, Best, and Crabtree, including the Greater Salt Lake Unified Police Department; South Jordan, Riverton and Herriman Police Departments, Utah; FBI Hostage Rescue Team; United States Postal Inspection Service – Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City Divisions; and the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Force.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Suh and Jay Hileman are pursuing the case.
An indictment is a formal charge of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted in due process.