POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 17, 2010
The government has identified Estrellita "Esther" Garo Miguel as the mastermind of the largest mortgage fraud scheme so far uncovered in Hawaii.
Federal prosecutor Clare Connors said in federal court yesterday that not only was Miguel the mastermind, she involved her daughters in the scheme to defraud subprime mortgage lenders out of millions of dollars.
Two federal indictments returned last week name Miguel and her daughters Jennifer Garin Miguel and Geraldine Garin Miguel Lukela among the 14 defendants charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements on loan applications.
The indictments list 46 residential properties on Oahu the defendants allegedly bought, sold and resold using false information to qualify straw buyers for mortgage loans.
But Connors said yesterday the scheme involved more than 90 properties.
Federal Magistrate Judge Barry M. Kurren granted Estrellita Miguel release on $500,000 bond secured with the mortgage of a seven-bedroom, three-bath home on Ainanui Loop in Aiea's Royal Summit subdivision.
The listed owner is Jennifer Miguel, and it has an assessed value of $920,600, according to the latest property tax records.
Kurren also granted Jennifer Miguel release on $300,000 bond secured with the mortgage of the Salt Lake home where FBI agents arrested her and her mother last Thursday.
Jennifer Miguel owns the nine-bedroom, six-bath home on Ala Laulani Street. It has an assessed value of $1.1 million.
Connors expressed concern over the Miguels' release because she said both women have access to large sums of money they can use to flee prosecution.
She said Jennifer Miguel owns at least one more property and has had $6.5 million flow through her accounts. She said Estrellita Miguel has ties to the Philippines, has traveled to and from there and has transferred money in and out of the Philippines.
The defendants are prohibited from talking about the case with each other. However, Connors also said mother and daughter will be living together in the Ala Laulani home while awaiting trial and will be free to communicate with each other and Lukela because they are family members. Jennifer Miguel will also be free to communicate with co-defendant Samantha Michel because they have an established relationship.
Kurren granted Estrellita and Jennifer Miguel release into the custody of Estrellita's husband, Vic. Kurren reminded Vic Miguel that he is responsible for supervising the women and reporting any violations of the terms of their release.
He is delaying Estrellita Miguel's release until the court can verify that a second telephone line is installed in the home. Kurren ordered electronically monitored home detention for mother and daughter. Electronic monitoring requires a separate telephone line for each defendant.
Another judge granted Lukela and Michel release on a $50,000 unsecured signature bond.