Christopher Jared Warren dropped out of the Air Force Academy and learned the mortgage-fraud trade. He was sentenced Tuesday in Sacramento federal court to 14 years and seven months in prison for practicing it in spectacular fashion.
After a hearing that took much of the day, and with more than a little hesitation, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez chose to go with the sentence agreed upon in January as part of Warren's plea bargain with the government.
Veteran Probation Officer Linda Alger recommended the statutory maximum 22 years. She doubts the sincerity of Warren's big show of contrition, and she believes he has not been honest with respect to the whereabouts of assets derived from his crimes.
"I share probation's concerns," said Mendez, wondering aloud if leniency might eventually show the judge to be a victim of Warren's prodigious talent as a con man. "The sincerity factor is what I'm concerned about. He is the most amazing con man I've ever seen for his age. He was full of himself."
"Is it a con?" asked Mendez about Warren's vow that he will walk the straight and narrow when he's released. "Just a continuation of what he started at 19 or 20? He made a lot of money because he's such a good liar."
In a recent letter to the judge, Warren wrote, "I come before you a former liar, cheat, and thief; a former narcissist, alcoholic and addict, having placed my own wants and greed as the chief concern."
In the end, the judge declared, "What I've heard today, the nature and circumstances of the offense, and the defendant's total lack of a criminal history, convinces me the agreement reached by the parties is adequate."
Warren, 30, who lived in Folsom and grew up in the Sacramento area, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and admitted his role in flimflams that cost victims nearly $20 million. Specifically, he admitted thievery that cost six major mortgage lenders almost $12.5 million during a short stint working under the banner of the notorious Loomis Wealth Solutions.
Authorities have said Roseville-based Loomis Wealth Solutions was nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme that clipped lenders and investors for approximately $100 million.
Warren further admitted stealing $7.4 million from a now-defunct Florida mortgage lender after he was booted out of Loomis Wealth Solutions because he started his own company.
He also pleaded guilty to identity theft in connection with his acquisition of a passport under another name.
He used the passport to purchase a fortune in gold and flee the country with it in February 2009. But he was nabbed nine days later as he tried to re-enter the United States over the Peace Bridge, which connects Buffalo, N.Y., with Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. He had been to Ireland and Lebanon. The gold was not with him, but he did have $70,000 in cash stuffed into his cowboy boots.
The government estimates that between $3.5 million and $4 million of Warren's loot is unaccounted for.
Tuesday's hearing dragged on over Alger's belief that Warren is a con man today, tomorrow and for the rest of his life.
The first issue taken up was a motion by Warren attorney James Greiner that the judge make a finding that prosecutor Russell Carlberg violated the plea deal by feeding information to Alger designed to prompt her to recommend more severe punishment than called for by the deal.
But Carlberg filed a sentencing memorandum conforming to his agreement.
In light of that memorandum, Mendez asked Greiner if he wanted to withdraw his motion, but the defense attorney would not retreat from his position.
Obviously miffed, Mendez said curtly, "Then it's denied. Under no circumstances do I find that the government has breached this plea agreement.
"I think you overreached on this motion," he chided Greiner.