Crime - Sacto 911

Roseville woman sentenced to 14 years in mortgage fraud

Among the scores of people prosecuted in Sacramento federal court for mortgage fraud since 2006, prosecutors see Rachel Siders as one of the worst offenders.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez sentenced Siders, 41, of Roseville, to 14 1/2 years in prison for her involvement in mortgage fraud schemes that cost financial institutions more than $17 million.

In a sentencing memorandum filed a week ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Bickley described Siders as a “serial fraudster” for whom “lying is a way of life.”

In March 2015, a jury found her guilty of bank fraud, making false statements to a federally insured bank and aggravated identity theft. In December, another jury found her guilty of wire and mail fraud. To cover up her crimes, according to Bickley, Siders told her sister to lie to the FBI.

All this was after Siders had embezzled thousands of dollars from her employer, Stewart Title of Sacramento, Bickley related in the memo.

The FBI and the IRS combined forces, along with three prosecutors, to bring Siders down.

“Over the course of two years, Siders oversaw and participated in numerous fraudulent loans and diverted money into shell accounts for her own benefit,” said acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert in a prepared release. “She abused her position as an escrow officer and as a notary public to make this criminal enterprise succeed.”

Evidence at Siders’ second trial showed that, from mid-2006 through early 2008, she and Vera Kuzmenko, 46, of Loomis, and other defendants secured more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. The loan applications contained false information as to the straw buyers’ income, employment, assets and intent to occupy the residences, according to trial evidence.

Records introduced by prosecutors at the trial showed that Kuzmenko raked in millions of dollars for herself, and Siders’ personal profit was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Kuzmenko was once a licensed real estate agent and Siders ran the Rocklin office of the escrow company used in a majority of the crooked transactions. Siders helped funnel millions of dollars to her co-defendants, which was not disclosed to the lenders, prosecutors maintained.

Kuzmenko was found guilty of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and witness tampering. On March 15, Mendez sentenced her to 14 years in prison.

Bickley said in her Sept. 13 sentencing memorandum that Siders has “repeatedly lied to this court. In order to delay her trial, she submitted false medical records to this court on Dec. 24, 2014, which were later withdrawn. Her shenanigans with her medical records were successful – they led this court to delay one of her trials by almost ten months.”

“Then again just last week the defendant lied again to this court. She submitted a motion to continue her sentencing based on her medical condition and inability to assist her defense,” Bickley wrote. “Siders, through her counsel, represented that she did not appear to be lucid, that she had trouble communicating, that she had been unable to effectively assist counsel in her sentencing preparation and that her health had deteriorated.

“Other evidence indicates that the defendant was lucid and very capable of assisting her defense,” Bickley said.

Mendez allowed Siders’ lawyer, Eduardo Roy, to file his sentencing memorandum, with his client’s medical records attached, under seal. It was the last of dozens of documents Roy was allowed to file under seal while the case made its journey of four years and three months through the court.

Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189