• Man Sentenced To More Than 17 Years In Mortgage Fraud Scheme

    A former South Holland man will spend more than 17 years in federal prison after directing a mortgage fraud scheme that cost lenders about $16 million for properties on the South Side, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. A release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said the sentence is one of the longest ever given to a mortgage fraud defendant in Chicago.

    Kenneth Steward, 45, was sentenced on August 17, 2011, to 17 1/2 years in prison for his part  in a $35 million mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 120 residences, the Sun-Times said. The scheme caused lenders and financial institutions to lose about $16 million in mortgage loans that were not repaid by borrowers or recovered through foreclosure sales .

    Court records showed Steward pocketed undisclosed payments and kickbacks from about 109 fraudulent transactions, also controlling about $3.1 million in post-closing funds over the course of the scheme. Between 2004 and 2008, he orchestrated the fraudulent purchase and resale of dozens of residences, causing lenders to issue almost $27.8 million in loans and lose more than $14.5 million. He was also part of a larger scheme that involved 122 residences, and at least 74 of the 109 residences on the South Side fell into foreclosure, according to the Sun-Times.

    Steward was arrested and charged in July 2010 before pleading guilty in June 2011 to nine counts of wire fraud, four counts of bank fraud and three counts of mail fraud, according to the Sun-Times. Charges against six co-defendants in the case are pending.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Emanuel Hopes $20 Million Loan Program Can Help Hardest-Hit

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled a $20 million loan pool on August 17, 2011, with a goal of bringing new ownership to 2,500 foreclosed homes in “small sub-sections” of nine Chicago neighborhoods. With a 20 percent increase in foreclosures in 2010, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the $20 million in loans provided by the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation is planned to leverage private capital to grow the loan pool to $50 million.

    Emanuel told WBEZ that the “Micro-Market Recovery Program” should get about 2,000 homes stabilized within three to five years. “This program will move Chicago from a house-by-house approach to a community-focused strategy, which will do a better job of protecting residents from the devastating impact of foreclosures,” the mayor said in a statement.

    The Sun-Times reported that about 95 percent of the 10,500 properties are currently vacant and the city plans to enforce a City Council ordinance agreed to last month which would hold banks responsible for maintaining and securing foreclosed properties. Banks would be asked to fund the renovations or relinquish the properties to the city for remodeling.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers