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Charlotte man pleads guilty in mortgage fraud case

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A Charlotte loan officer has pleaded guilty to taking part in a mortgage-fraud ring that prosecutors say rigged more than $158 million in home loans across the Carolinas
The scam resulted in millions in losses to federal loan programs, The Charlotte Observer (http://bit.ly/1buxcV7) reported.
The U.S. attorney’s office said 37-year-old Joseph Klakulak approved more than a third of the loans. Klakulak pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements to federal investigators.
He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when is sentenced.
Prosecutors said Klakulak was one of three loan officers accused of participating in the six-year scheme.
Prosecutors say the loan officers worked with Greensboro-based Phoenix Housing Group, a manufactured home company with sales offices in both states.
Three company executives were indicted Tuesday. A fourth executive pleaded guilty to related cases in 2011.
The company sold more than 1,100 homes in North Carolina financed with fraudulently secured government-backed loans, prosecutors say.
Phoenix Housing Group’s sales pitch for houses and land used claims of down payments as low as $500.
According to the indictment, company personnel, with the help of Klakulak and the other loan officers, regularly manipulated customers’ credit reports so they would qualify.
The company and several loan officers destroyed documents and told witnesses to lie in order to slow the investigation, prosecutors said.

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