Owner of Naples title company admits to fraudulent loans

Aug 24, 2011

The following article was published in the Marco Eagle on August 23, 2011:

Owner of Naples title company admits to fraudulent loans

The owner of a now-defunct North Naples title company pleaded guilty Tuesday, admitting she’d submitted fraudulent documents for at least seven federal housing loans that defaulted.

Ruth Vetri, 49, who owned Surety Title, waived presentation of her case to a federal grand jury, pleading guilty to five counts of submitting false statements to the Federal Housing Administration.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Polster Chappell ordered a presentence report, which would reveal any past criminal history or mitigating factors, and allowed Vetri, now of Lehigh Acres, to remain free on her own recognizance. She faces up to five years in a federal prison on each count, which involve loans in Lehigh Acres.

Sentencing will be set once the PSR is complete.

Vetri’s plea comes two weeks after her father was badly beaten in a nursing home.

The plea deal says she was the closing agent and knew what she did was wrong, but wanted to continue business with the seller, L Plus Land Developers owner Harvey Lowell, 34, who pocketed at least $361,804.56 for the five closings in her plea.

“Vetri was broke and needed money to pay her bills,” her plea agreement says of what she told a U.S. Housing and Urban Development investigator.

Collier court records show Vetri faces judgments totaling more than $355,766 involving home owner association fees and a mortgage foreclosure.

Vetri’s defense attorney, Yale Freeman of Naples, declined comment. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jesus Casas. William Daniels, an office spokesman, declined comment on whether Lowell or others face indictments.

Vetri’s “substantial cooperation” agreement says she’ll be given leniency if she helps prosecutors.

Asked about Vetri and if he’d been questioned as part of a possible grand jury investigation, Lowell said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and hung up.

Lee Circuit Court records show he uses the name Harry and faces more than $5.5 million in judgments for work in Lee County as Metroplex Partnership. State records show he gave up his contractor license, but his broker’s and construction finance officer licenses are current; there are no complaints against him.

Vetri’s plea agreement gives this account:

The loans went through the Hialeah branch of AMS Mortgage Services, which handled 27 loans with its FHA sponsor, Security Atlantic Mortgage Co., between March 2008 and February 2010, with 67 percent defaulting after closings in Collier and Lee counties.

Ten Lehigh Acres deals defaulted after borrowers made a few payments or none. Investigators found a scheme to defraud involving unqualified and non-existent “straw” borrowers who used false employment and other bogus information.

They didn’t pay “earnest money” deposits at closings. Instead, they were deducted from seller proceeds and Vetri signed paperwork.

Vetri, who has more than 20 years of insurance industry experience, shut down in 2009 due to a lack of business, but before she did, a mortgage broker introduced her to Lowell. Initially, he gave her cash-to-close deposit checks, but later collected deposits from her.

“Vetri told Lowell that he could get in trouble for getting the deposit back, but Lowell told her to let him worry about (that),” her plea deal says.

When he stopped giving her deposits, she deducted them from his proceeds on the HUD-1 Settlement Statements, which was illegal.

Find this article here:  http://www.marconews.com/news/2011/aug/23/owner-naples-title-company-admits-fraudulent-loans/