Monday, July 28, 2014         

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Pair admits to mortgage fraud

More guilty pleas are expected this month in a scheme to bilk lenders out of millions

By Nelson Daranciang


A 61-year-old woman and her 35-year-old son are the first two defendants to plead guilty in the largest mortgage fraud scheme so far uncovered in Hawaii.

Victoria "Vicky" Batanagan Rumbawa and Russell Batangan Rumbawa each pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a single charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and make false statements on loan applications involving five properties on Oahu.

They each face a maximum five-year prison term when they are sentenced in May.

The Rumbawas have agreed to cooperate with the government in the prosecution of other defendants, according to the terms of their plea agreements.

They were not among the 14 people named in the two grand jury indictments returned last summer charging the defendants with defrauding subprime mortgage lenders out of millions of dollars between 2003 and 2008.

Two other defendants, Lordy Augustin and Richard "Ric" Acosta Garin, who also were not among the original 14, are scheduled to plead guilty later this month.

The government says the Rumbawas committed their crimes while working with the accused mastermind of the mortgage fraud scheme, Estrellita "Esther" Garo Miguel, through Miguel's mortgage brokerage company, Easy Mortgage Corp.

Last summer's indictments list 46 residential properties on Oahu the defendants allegedly bought, sold and resold using false information to qualify straw buyers for mortgage loans. However, a federal prosecutor said the scheme involved more than 90 properties.

Among the other defendants named in the indictments are Miguel's daughters, Jennifer Garin Miguel and Geraldine Garin Miguel Lukela, and former Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii President Stephen Callo.

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