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UPDATED: San Clemente Property Caught up in Mortgage Fraud Case

Irvine man pleads guilty to working both ends of a loan.

An Irvine man pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud in a case that included a San Clemente property. Patch file photo.
An Irvine man pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud in a case that included a San Clemente property. Patch file photo.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Originally posted at 11:33 a.m. Jan. 10, 2014. Updated to include more information about the scheme.

A former loan officer pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Sacramento to mortgage fraud that included a bogus purchase of a San Clemente home.

According to court documents, Alexander A. Romaniolis, 48, of Irvine, recruited straw buyers to pretend to be executives of companies he created, making purchases on behalf of those companies.

"Primarily Romaniolis would buy a property and, on the same day, would resell it to a straw buyer for $60,000 to $350,000 more," said U.S. Attorney's spokeswoman Lauren Horwood. 

Eight real estate transactions, in San Clemente, Rocklin and Roseville, generated $5 million in loans, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner of the Eastern District of California.

“All of the properties were foreclosed on, resulting in a total loss of more than $2 million,” the release states.

The San Clemente house was at 19 Calle Aveituna in the Talega area, the plea agreement states. It was bought in February 2007.

The straw buyer indicated on loan documents that he made $42,000 a month and was planning on personally occupying the property. This was in spite of purchasing just two months before from Romaniolis another house, this one in Roseville. For that house's loan, he claimed he made $19,500 a month and he planned to live there, the plea agreement states.

Romaniolis arranged both purchases and paid the straw buyer -- identified only by initials -- for his services.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Attorney General’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force investigated the case.

Romaniolis faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 27.

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