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The area is still picking up the pieces from the housing collapse, but the local bigwigs who allegedly helped get homeowners into the mess are now facing justice.
A man who served as the president of the Arizona Mortgage Brokers Association and his son just pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Their indictment said they cooked the books to pocket fees and commissions.
"I was misled," said Sharlene Seipert, who, like many Arizonans, said she is a victim of careless brokers and lenders after her home foreclosed in 2009.
"The homeowners were the real losers," Seipert said.
But the government isn't just calling it careless, they're calling it criminal.
Jerry Craig Sr., the president of Spectrum Financial Group and former president of the Arizona Mortgage Brokers Association, and his son, Jerry Craig Jr., have been convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Jerry Craig Sr. was replaced as president of the Arizona Mortgage Brokers Association five years ago.
The indictment said they recruited straw buyers who wouldn't normally qualify for a mortgage to buy homes at inflated prices, all for kickbacks between $10,000 and $40,000. They authorized more than 100 loans worth more than $40 million, earning enough commission to buy them high-end corporate tents at the Phoenix Open, expensive dinners, condos in Puerto Vallarta and a boat. Court records show Jerry Craig Sr. has been sentenced to a year in prison, while Jerry Craig Jr. has been sentenced to house arrest. Both have been ordered to jointly pay $2.4 million in restitution to First Fidelity Bank.
"Even though I questioned them on some of the things that were on the document, they brushed it over and said, 'It's OK, it's OK,'" Seipert said.
While Seipert is not connected to the criminal case, she said she unsuccessfully tried to take Spectrum Financial Group to court after she hired them to refinance her loan, and she ultimately lost her home.
"I'm ecstatic the state of Arizona or whoever is finally going after the perpetrators of these frauds," Seipert said.
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