East Naples home builder charged with mortgage application fraud

— An East Naples home builder has been charged with committing a $388,000 mortgage fraud in a continuing federal investigation that netted an indictment against a Wachovia Bank branch manager who helped him obtain $2.2 million.

Scott Fawcett, 29, a general contractor at 2630 70th St. S.W., waived presentation of his case to a federal grand jury and agreed to an information charging him with mortgage application fraud, federal court records say.

An indictment handed up last week against Debra Landberg, who was the branch manager at Wachovia Bank at 125 N. Airport-Pulling Road, shows she helped Fawcett and his wife fill out false verifications of deposit. Her indictment shows Fawcett obtained $2.2 million in loans.

Fawcett was issued a summons and hasn’t been arraigned yet. Neither Fawcett nor his attorney, Michael R.N. McDonnell, could be reached for comment.

The charge is part of a continuing criminal investigation called “The Mortgage Fraud Surge” that has resulted in indictments and criminal informations against many in the real estate industry, including brokers, Realtors, loan officers, title agents, and home owners. It’s also prompted a continuing investigation into three lawyers and many law enforcement officers.

Two Cape Coral police officers, Detective Steve Petrovich, the chief’s son, and Sgt. James O’Brien, were placed on administrative duty last month pending the outcome of the federal investigation, according to a department press release. Petrovich has filed for bankruptcy protection, while court records indicate O’Brien was considering it.

Lee County Court records show Petrovich and his wife, Denise, had three mortgage foreclosures since 2007 and were defendants in five other lawsuits involving credit cards, and O’Brien and his wife, Lea, were foreclosed on three times.

U.S. Attorney A. Brian Albritton, who heads Florida’s Middle District, said last week many defendants were reported by banks filing suspicious activity reports or were discovered after foreclosures, when loans were scrutinized and revealed homeowners never had the money they claimed to have. Albritton will hold a press conference next month to detail the federal probe.

The information says Fawcett, aided and abetted by others, completed a mortgage application on July 19, 2006, and provided false information to influence Bank United to give him a $388,000 loan. Fawcett and H.F., who is not named or charged, claimed to have $353,209.09 in a combined bank account, when they actually had $13.57.

Collier County court records and an IRS lien show Fawcett’s wife is H.F., Heather Fawcett.

Last week, a grand jury indicted Debra L. Landberg of Darby Court in Naples on charges she aided and abetted H.F. and S.F. so they could get that $388,000 loan, knowing their loan application contained false financial information. State records show Landberg is a notary who worked at 125 N. Airport-Pulling Road, where Wachovia Bank is located.

Reached Wednesday, a bank representative said she no longer works there.

Landberg also is accused of aiding and abetting S.F. on April 15, 2007, in Collier and Charlotte counties by helping him get a $389,481.61 loan, while knowing S.F’s account balance was $957.18, not $177,655.58, the amount he wrote in his mortgage application.

The notary also is accused of aiding and abetting S.F. in getting a $1.5 million mortgage on Aug. 22, 2007, in Collier County, knowing that his combined account balance was not $146,264.77, but actually was $1,774.50. Landberg also is accused of lying to FBI agents, saying she only completed one false verification of deposit for H.F. and S.F.

Collier Court records show Fawcett has been named as a defendant in a dozen mortgage foreclosures filed in Collier County in 2007 and 2008, and is a defendant in seven lawsuits involving money owed or services not completed. The IRS also filed a lien against the Fawcetts for nearly $19,000 in taxes they owe for 2006.

State corporation records show Scott Fawcett has operated 15 companies, mostly involving construction, including Fawcett Homes, Fawcett Construction and Fawcett Development, all on Domestic Avenue. However, it appears only Fawcett and Associates Inc., at 2630 70th St. S.W., is active. Most were dissolved last year.

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