Oregon Realtor & UFC Fighter Chael Sonnen Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Related To Mortgage Fraud
Chael Sonnen (a Realtor from West Linn, Oregon) plead guilty to one count of money laundering in Federal court on January 3, 2011 for his real estate transaction that involved an undisclosed cash incentive to the buyer of $65,000 which was disbursed through a plumbing company for "repairs" that Sonnen knew were never going to be made.
Sonnen will be sentenced on March 28, 2011 and is expected cooperate with investigators and will probably receive 2 years probation, a $10,000 fine and loss of his Oregon real estate license.
This case may have been the reason why Sonnen dropped out of running for the Oregon House of Representatives last year. In fact, the website VoteSonnen.com that he was advertising during his campaign is currently suspended.
Speaking of suspensions, Dana White (President of UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship) just announced that Sonnen's contract has been temporarily "frozen" after his guilty plea.
Regardless, Sonnen was already serving a 6-month suspension from fighting since he was discovered to have an elevated level of testosterone during a drug test taken after his devastating loss against UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva on August 7, 2010.
With the potential loss of his real estate license, an unlikely future in his political career, an untimely defeat by triangle choke in his first shot at the UFC Middleweight Title and his suspension from fighting in the UFC...what could be in store next for Chael Sonnen?
Photo courtesy Bad intentionz
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon
January 03, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. - Chael Sonnen, 33, of West Linn, Oregon, plead guilty today to one count of money laundering in federal court before the Honorable Michael Mosman. Sentencing is scheduled on March 28, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.
Sonnen, a licensed realtor in the State of Oregon, admitted that a financial transaction he conducted was designed to conceal or disguise the ownership and control of the proceeds of wire fraud. The scheme involved Joel Rosabal and Chadwick Amsden, employees of Crown Point Enterprises, dba Lighthouse Financial Group (Lighthouse), a mortgage brokerage service based principally in Vancouver, Washington, with operations in Oregon and elsewhere. Rosabal and Amsden submitted a materially false loan application on the buyer's behalf to Decision One Mortgage, a subprime lending institution that is now defunct, for the purchase of residential property located at 11249 SE Rolling Hills Lane, Portland, Oregon. Sonnen acted as the realtor for the transaction. Sonnen submitted a false letter and Sales Agreement Addendum instructing the title company to pay loan proceeds to a plumbing company for repairs to the home. In fact, Sonnen knew and had negotiated with Rosabal that no repairs would be performed on the home and the funds designated to the plumbing company would instead be paid to the buyer as a cash incentive to purchase the home. This agreement was not disclosed to Decision One Mortgage. Once the loan was funded, the title company paid over $69,000 to the plumbing company and the plumbing company, in turn and at Sonnen's direction, paid $65,000 to the buyer of the home.
"This office will continue to aggressively prosecute real estate professionals who committed the mortgage fraud that contributed to this country's economic downturn and wreaked havoc on our community's housing market. We entrusted these professionals to honestly broker real estate transactions and instead, they defrauded lending institutions throughout the country and left financial ruin in their wake, said Dwight Holton, U. S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
Marcus Williams, the Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigations for the Pacific Northwest said, "West Linn residents, and other residents throughout the Portland/Vancouver area, can rest assured knowing that federal law enforcement agencies take mortgage fraud very seriously because it played a major role in almost crippling this nation's banking system just a few years ago."
Money Laundering carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
There are currently two other cases related to Lighthouse pending in the United States District Court of Oregon, United States v. Joel Rosabal et al., USDC Case No. 10-CR-00195 and United States v. Chadwick Amsden, et al., USDC Case No. 10-CR-00196. In addition, three other defendants have pled guilty and have been sentenced to charges related to Lighthouse as well: United States v. Kamau Herndon, USDC Case No. 09-CR-00068, United States v. Marty Folwick, USDC Case No. 08-CR-00280, United States v. Kristen Buse, Case No. 08-CR-00283.
This investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case against Chael Sonnen is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Michelle Holman Kerin. The pending cases involving Lighthouse are being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Michelle Holman Kerin and Allan Garten.
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