Easy Money - for a While
LOS ANGELES (CN) - An Orange County man was charged Wednesday with running a $1.5 million fraudulent foreclosure scheme - after a federal judge had ordered him to pay $5 million in civil penalties in previous cases.
Terrill "Terry" Meisinger, 74, of Seal Beach was charged on June 25 with two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Meisinger, who has been in custody since June 11, was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday afternoon.
If convicted, Meisinger could face up to 20 years in federal prison on each charge of wire fraud, and two years for aggravated identity theft.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Meisinger persuaded a distressed homeowner to sign a quitclaim under the pretense that he could broker a short-sale agreement that would release the homeowner from his mortgage on a property on Monte Alban Drive in North Las Vegas, Nev.
"But, instead, Meisinger caused a deed of trust to be recorded on the property, which was followed by a fraudulent bankruptcy on behalf of the person who supposedly now held an interest in the home," the U.S. attorney said in a statement.
"Meanwhile, Meisinger rented out the home to another person while foreclosure proceedings were stayed as a result of the fraudulent bankruptcy."
Prosecutors said Meisinger used the names of several lenders whose identities he controlled to initiate the recording of deeds of trusts, and on behalf of those lenders filed bankruptcies to put the brakes on foreclosure proceedings. All the while, he continued to collect rent on the distressed homeowner's property, the indictment states.
Prosecutors say Meisinger's enterprise was wide ranging.
"Based on the evidence, Meisinger has collected approximately more than $1.5 million in illicit rent payments on more than 100 properties and never made any mortgage payments on those properties," the indictment states. "Further, he caused more than 300 bogus bankruptcy petitions to be filed in the names of numerous individuals who had no knowledge their identity was being used."
In 2012, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued a judgment in a civil case requiring Meisinger to pay $5 million in civil penalties after he was accused of duping homeowners, renters and lenders in a massive fraud scheme.
Phillips prohibited Meisinger from working in home finance or real estate for 10 years, and from filing bankruptcy petitions.
"The criminal conduct alleged in the indictment is nearly identical to the conduct alleged in the government civil lawsuit," prosecutors said Wednesday.