Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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2 plead guilty in mortgage scam with elderly victims

Two men pleaded guilty to felony theft charges in connection with a scam in which an elderly couple’s home was mortgaged without their knowledge, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s office said today.

The couple found out their home, which they owned outright, had been mortgaged when they received a foreclosure notice for not making payments, the attorney general’s office said.

Thomas Gentile, 56, of Las Vegas, and Justin Sabo, 30, of Huntington Beach, Calif., each pleaded guilty to one count of theft of an amount over $2,500. A third man, Julio C. Martinez, 61, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor in connection with fraudulently notarizing documents that allowed Sabo and Gentile to complete the transaction, Cortez Masto’s office said.

The Attorney General’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force learned that between January and March last year, Sabo and Gentile fraudulently obtained personal information about the couple to obtain a $65,000 mortgage on property they owned. The man was Gentile’s former employer, the attorney general’s office said.

The couple had paid cash for their home and didn’t have a mortgage, authorities said. The couple contacted the attorney general’s office when they received a notice of foreclosure for nonpayment.

Authorities said the loan was obtained from hard money lenders who didn’t know the application was fraudulent.

A sentencing date was set for July 23 in front of District Court Judge Linda Bell. The charges carry a possible sentence of one to 20 years in prison. Under the plea agreement, the men are required to pay $65,000 restitution to the victims.

“Victimizing seniors is especially egregious,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “We must put a stop to the continual targeting of the most vulnerable groups by these scammers.”

To report information about mortgage loan modification or mortgage fraud scams, contact the Attorney General’s Office at 486-3221.

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