Crime - Sacto 911

Loomis woman sentenced in multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme

A Placer County woman convicted in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Vera Kuzmenko, 46, of Loomis was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez for multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, witness tampering and money laundering associated with her involvement in the scheme that cost financial institutions more than $16 million, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.

On Dec. 4, after a 16-day trial in federal court in Sacramento, a jury returned guilty verdicts for Kuzmenko and Rachel Siders, 40, of Roseville. Siders is to be sentenced June 21.

According to evidence presented during the trial, from late 2006 through early 2008, Kuzmenko and Siders engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 30 properties in the Sacramento area. They were responsible for securing more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. Records introduced during the trial showed Kuzmenko received millions of dollars.

Kuzmenko, who had been a licensed real estate agent for part of the scheme, created fraudulent loan applications on behalf of the straw buyers. The loan applications contained materially false information as to the straw buyers’ income, employment, assets and intent to occupy the residences. The loan paperwork also hid from lenders millions of dollars of payments that went to the defendants. Kuzmenko also served as a straw buyer, authorities said.

As for the witness tampering count, evidence showed that after Kuzmenko learned that the FBI was investigating her, she told various witnesses to lie to the FBI and blame a dead woman for the fraud, authorities said.

On Oct. 20, Judge Mendez sentenced co-defendants Peter Kuzmenko, 37 of West Sacramento, to 19 years in prison; Aaron New, 41 of Sacramento, to 11 years and three months in prison; Nadia Kuzmenko, 36, formerly of Loomis, to eight years in prison; and Edward Shevtsov, 52, of North Highlands, to eight years in prison. They were found guilty in February 2015 of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud associated with the mortgage fraud scheme. In addition, Peter Kuzmenko, Shevtsov and New were found guilty of money laundering associated with the scheme, and Nadia Kuzmenko was found guilty of witness tampering.

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

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy