Suspect Charged in Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate Scam
A 52-year-old woman accused of orchestrating a $13 million real estate scam involving more than 20 properties has been charged with 75 criminal counts. Several alleged co-conspirators, including the defendant’s sisters, are also facing charges in the case.
Brenda Felix, the alleged ringleader, is charged along with her sisters, Lessa Patten, 37, and Cynthia Emerson, 58. Patten and Emerson are accused of posing as straw buyers, or purchasers who pose as a buyer, to make the illegal real estate transactions. Patten also allegedly created a fake identity and recruited others to participate in the scam. She is charged with 37 counts, while Emerson faces seven counts.
In addition, Nelson Cabral, 52, and Bryan Deters, 50, are accused of participating in a string of illegal real estate transactions relating to the case. Cabral is charged with 72 counts, and Deters is charged with 67 counts.
The crew is charged in a complaint that includes grand theft; attempted grand theft, forgery, perjury, and failure to file income tax returns. Over the course of roughly nine months, Felix allegedly set up a network of straw buyers to obtain financing for the purchase of 23 properties ranging in price between $500,000 and $700,000. Cabral is accused of falsely verifying employment for the phony buyers and Deters, a mortgage broker, allegedly helped process the loans. Eight financial institutions were allegedly defrauded as a result of the case.
Bail for Felix is recommended at more than $13 million. If convicted as charged, she faces a maximum penalty of more than 72 years in state prison. Bail for Cabral and Deters will be set at more than $10.5 million each. If convicted, Cabral faces a state prison term of more than 70 years, and Deters faces more than 65 years.
Felix, Deters and Jackson also are charged with 19 additional counts in a pending real estate fraud case filed in August.