Ten people indicted for mortgage fraud scheme

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By Joshua Lott By Joshua Lott

PHOENIX -- Ten people have been indicted for a Valley mortgage fraud scheme that allegedly lasted nearly 11 years.

On May 30, a federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a 43 count indictment that included charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements, false representation of Social Security number, and aggravated identity theft.

On June 21, Joel Martinez, 41, was detained pending trial on those charges.

The other nine people included in the indictment are Julio Cesar Esquivel Reyes, 38; Estefana Salazar Olivares, 38, wife of Esquivel Reyes; Claudia Salazar Olivares, 31, sister-in-law of Esquivel Reyes; Martha Elena Gonzalez, 39, sister-in-law of Esquivel Reyes; Andres M. Esquivel, 64, father of Esquivel Reyes; Evangelina Gardner, 49, girlfriend of Esquivel Reyes’ father; Solomon Moses Worden, 36; Edgar Lira, 40; and Luis Antonio Maldonado Tovar, 48, pastor of Grupo Amistad Church in Phoenix.

Between June of 2001 and May of 2012 the group purchased several homes across the Valley. Esquivel Reyes and Evangelina Gardner served as the real estate agents for several of the deals, while Estefana Olivares, Martha Gonzalez, and Claudia Olivares processed many of the loans.

The defendants allegedly conspired to obtain mortgage loans by providing false information to lenders. They then used false information to refinance those loans and receive cash back before defaulting on the loans.

The group also obtained commissions from the sale of the homes, and sold fraudulently obtained properties to other members of the conspiracy for reduced prices through short sales.

If convicted, the defendants face several years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.