Crime - Sacto 911

Rocklin man pleads guilty in mortgage fraud scheme

A Rocklin man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

Aleksandr Kovalev, 53, pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving financial institutions in connection with a scheme that included the purchase of at least 31 properties, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.

Kovalev was in the business of developing, building and selling property in Sacramento, Fairfield and Stockton, according to court documents. As the real estate market began to weaken, Kovalev offered to make incentive payments to purchasers through “down payment assistance,” or by making other payments to the buyers to be used in whatever manner the buyers wanted. Most of the payments to buyers were made out of escrow and were often paid through intermediaries, originating in Kovalev’s bank account. The payments were not disclosed to the lenders, and they had the effect of substantially reducing the actual sales price below that represented to the lenders.

At least 31 properties were involved in the scheme with substantial losses to the lenders, authorities said.

Kovalev is to be sentenced Feb. 9 by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr.

To date, five co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. They are Jannice Riddick, 34, of Sacramento, two years and 11 months in prison; Florence Francisco, 65, of Houston, one year in prison; Adil Qayyum, 34, of Rosele Ill., three years of probation; Elsie Pamela Fuller, 41, of Richmond, one year and nine months in prison; and Leona Yeargin, 49, of San Pablo, 18 months in prison.

Charges are pending against co-defendant Arthur Menefee, 45, of Stockton.

Two other defendants were charged separately for their involvement the scheme. Valeriy Vasilevitsky and Ruth Willis have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

The case resulted from an investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy