Las Vegas Sun

September 3, 2015

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Homebuilder faces prison time after conviction on mortgage fraud charges

A federal jury convicted a Las Vegas homebuilder of mortgage fraud crimes at the conclusion of his 12-day trial, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden announced Friday.

Paul Wagner, 56, is the first homebuilder in Nevada to be prosecuted and convicted of mortgage fraud offenses since 2008, officials said.

Wagner was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, six counts of bank fraud and three counts of wire fraud, officials said.

Officials said Wagner sold houses at inflated prices so he could fraudulently obtain mortgage loans and defraud federally insured banks and lenders for more than $8 million.

The scheme, which began March 2007 and lasted through mid-2009, worked like this, prosecutors said: Wagner would offer large cash incentives to buyers, real estate agents and others to sell his homes. The incentives included Wagner paying buyers' mortgage payments for several months, paying buyers' down payments and giving large cash payments to real estate agents and others to find buyers for his homes.

To pay for all the incentives, Wagner inflated the value of his homes by causing appraisers to draft false appraisals, officials said.

He concealed the incentives from lenders, who officials say would not have made the loans had they known his methods.

Wagner used this scheme to sell 78 houses, many of which went into foreclosure when he stopped making payments. The tract homes he built were in the northwest valley.

Wagner, a homebuilder in Las Vegas for 20 years, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 14, 2013. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each count.

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