Can’t Tell Bribed Bankers Without a Program

SAN DIEGO (CN) – A San Diego man was sentenced Friday to 18 months in federal prison for bribing bankers to sell mortgage loans to his companies on the secondary market.
     Israel Hechter, 47, of San Diego, owner of Ocean 18 and Note Tracker Corp., paid nearly $1 million in bribes to insiders at JP Morgan Chase, National City Bank and GMAC Mortgage, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     A slew of his cohorts already have pleaded guilty.
     “In tipping the scales in Hechter’s favor, the bankers altered, rejected, ignored, and even erased bids from qualified competitors,” the U.S. attorney said in a statement. “They also supplied Hechter with confidential information about prices and competing bids.”
     Hechter admitted he paid GMAC banker Robert Moreno $666,000 in bribes, half of it in cash.
     Ben Keisari, who ran BGK Investments in Woodland Hills, admitted he bribed Moreno with $350,000 to get GMAC mortgages. Keisari will be sentenced on Oct. 5.
     Moreno, 42, of Tempe, Ariz., pleaded guilty in October 2014 to taking more than $1 million in bribes from Hechter and Keisari. Moreno will be sentenced on Sept. 8.
     Hechter also admitted he bribed JP Morgan Chase Bank officer Lynda Sanabria with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sanabria, 51, of Rockwall, Texas, pleaded guilty to taking the bribes. She was sentenced to 6 months in prison.
     Hechter’s brother Amir Hechter, 42, of San Diego, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. His business partner Jack Prober, 56, of La Jolla, will be sentenced on Oct. 5.
     His father Zeev Hechter, 68, of Aventura, Fla., was sentenced to 6 months in prison.
     The secondary mortgage market in the United States is bigger than $10 trillion, and “is essential to the healthy functioning of the American economy,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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