Crime - Sacto 911

Foreclosure rescue firm operator sentenced to prison

The former operator of a foreclosure rescue company has been sentenced to 18 years in state prison.

A Sacramento County jury in April convicted Richard Henri Fecteau, 52, of 23 felony real estate fraud charges involving grand theft, recording false documents and illegally acting as a foreclosure consultant. He was sentenced Friday by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Majorie Koller. In addition to the prison term, Fecteau was ordered to pay more than $35,000 in restitution to multiple victims he defrauded, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office news release.

Between 2011 and 2014, Fecteau ran a foreclosure rescue company called Team Fecteau. He directed homeowners to deed properties to a trust. The names of people who had recently filed bankruptcy were then named co-trustees of the trust, along with Fecteau, which placed an automatic stay against foreclosure of the property.

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

After 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 interest in the property to these individuals as their names were removed as trustees each time a new deed was recorded. Fecteau did not negotiate with lenders to take any action toward saving the homes of his unsuspecting clients, authorities said, and he continued his scam with some 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 the foreclosing lenders would settle the liens when they resold the properties, authorities said.

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

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy