Crime - Sacto 911

Operator of foreclosure rescue firm convicted of real estate fraud

The former operator of a foreclosure rescue company was convicted Friday of 23 felony real estate fraud charges.

A Sacramento County jury found 52-year-old Richard Henri Fecteau guilty of offenses involving grand theft, recording false documents and illegally acting as a foreclosure consultant, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office news release. The jury also found true a white-collar crime enhancement.

Between 2011 and 2014, Fecteau ran a foreclosure rescue company called Team Fecteau. He directed homeowners to deed their properties to a trust. The names of people who had recently filed for bankruptcy were then named as co-trustees of the trust, along with Fecteau. This had the effect of placing an automatic stay against foreclosure on the property, authorities said, noting that this protection is granted under federal bankruptcy laws.

Fecteau often told homeowners not to have any further contact with the banks or lenders and that he would handle all further negotiations regarding their mortgages. Homeowners also were directed not to pay their mortgages and to make monthly payments to Fecteau for his service.

Once the homeowners signed the first deed to Fecteau, he or his employees filed additional grant deeds using the same scheme of adding names of people in bankruptcy to the deeds. There was no intent to transfer any true interest in the property to these individuals as their names were removed as trustee each time a new deed was recorded, authorities said. Fecteau did not negotiate with lenders to take any action toward saving the homes of his unsuspecting clients. Authorities said he continued the scam with some of the homeowners for several years.

Once the scheme was no longer effective and most of Fecteau’s clients lost their homes to foreclosure, Fecteau employed another scam to illegally obtain money from the properties. He and an employee filed false mechanic liens against those same properties, hoping that the foreclosing lenders would settle the liens when they resold the properties, authorities said.

Fecteau is in Sacramento County Jail and is to be sentenced June 3 before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller.

The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy