Monday, Nov. 10, 2008 | 2:50 p.m.
The preliminary hearing for two Henderson residents accused of mortgage fraud has been pushed back to March because of the defense attorney's involvement in the O.J. Simpson trial in October.
Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General John Kelleher also said the FBI is still trying to track down Jeffrey Brown, 48, who officials believe fled to the Philippines.
Brown and Cindy Birkland, 39, face multiple felony theft counts and racketeering charges in connection with information used in loan applications. They are accused of inflating home values using fraudulent appraisals, falsifying loan documents, inflating buyers' income, forging signatures on checks and loan documents, and submitting bogus invoices to obtain loan proceeds.
They are accused of doctoring information at the Sapphire Mortgage office in Henderson in order to secure larger loan payments, which in turn landed their clients in financial hardship.
The preliminary hearing in Las Vegas Justice Court was originally scheduled for August, and then Oct. 15. It is now set for 9 a.m., March 16 before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Abbi Silver.
"Our hope was that we'd be able to have (Brown) back in Nevada in time to conduct the preliminary hearing against both defendants," Kelleher said
Birkland's attorney Gabriel Grasso did not return repeated calls for comment. Birkland has proclaimed her innocence on the Web site justiceforcindy.com, on which she solicits donations for her defense. On the Web page, she says mortgage brokers all over the country are finding themselves under attack.
Dave Clark can be reached at 990-2677 or [email protected].