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Ten indicted in $14 million mortgage fraud scheme

Ten people were indicted Tuesday for participating in a fraud scheme to obtain $14.5 million in mortgage loans over eight years, according to federal prosecutors.

Between August 2004 and October 2012, the defendants — including five loan originators — schemed to obtain about 52 fraudulent mortgage loans totaling $14.5 million, and used the funds to enrich themselves, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The defendants obtained the mortgages by making false representations about income, employment, financial condition, sources of down payments and sale prices of property in loan applications, real estate contracts, and HUD-1 settlement statements, according to federal prosecutors.

Some of the defendants recruited property owners to sell their homes, knowing they could falsely inflate the sales price to obtain the proceeds of the mortgage, the statement said.

Keith Austin, 41, of Broadview, allegedly directed the scheme. Austin, who controlled companies Icy Investments Inc., and Kesha & Icy Investments Inc., was charged with six counts of wire fraud, three counts of bank fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of obstruction of justice.

Austin, Cesar Marin, 30, of Schaumburg; and Mark Pettis, 57, of Chicago allegedly prepared and provided false documents to answer a federal grand jury subpoenas issued last year. Marin was charged with three counts of wire fraud and Pettis with one count of bank fraud.

Other defendants include: Joseph Bateast, 40, of Bolingbrook, charged with one count of bank fraud; Robert Brown, 37, charged with one count of wire fraud; Constance Paek, 34, of Glenview, charged with one count of wire fraud; Wilson Titus, 64, of Broadview, charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of bank fraud; Clyde Banks, aka “Charles Barksdale,” 36, charged with one count of wire fraud; Steven Gawlik, 41, of Chicago, charged with one count of wire fraud; and Michael Thill, 54, of Park Ridge, charged with one count of wire fraud.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $8 million from Austin, Marin, Titus, Banks and Bateast; as well as $6,800 seized from Austin’s home last year, and Austin’s Lexus, which was seized Wednesday, the statement said.

An 11th defendant, Brandie Roberts, 34, of Brookfield, a former closing agent for a title company, was indicted separately on two counts of wire fraud, the statement said.

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