SAN DIEGO (CN) - A husband and wife real estate team were sentenced Thursday to 3½ years in federal prison for a $10 million mortgage fraud scheme.
Eric Elegado, 47, a San Diego real estate agent, and his wife, Charmagne Elegado, a former account executive for nonparty New Century Mortgage, were each sentenced to 41 months in prison. A restitution hearing was set for May 27, after which the couple must surrender to the Bureau of Prison. The government seeks more than $10 million in restitution, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
During the Thursday hearing, prosecutors described the couple as "ruthless, greedy and cunning masterminds of a scheme to obtain $50 million in home loans for unqualified buyers by falsifying job and salary information on applications," the U.S. attorney said in the statement.
Sparing no words, the U.S. attorney's statement continued: "The defendants were pocketing at least $40,000 a month in commissions, and they obtained loans exceeding the sales prices and profited from the excess. They used the proceeds to live a lavish lifestyle that included expensive houses and cars and designer watches and clothing - all while living a double life as respected community leaders and philanthropists.
"[Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey] Sullivan told the court that Eric Elegado posted photos on his Facebook page of himself posing with his ill-gotten gains - a Rolls Royce, Bentley and Hummer. 'He's standing in front of his Bentley wearing a watch that cost more than the car I drive,' Sullivan told the court. 'They were living an extravagant lifestyle funded by their fraudulent activities.'"
The Elegados pleaded guilty, as did five of their minions, who they paid $500 a pop for acting as straw buyers. Sic transit gloria mundi