Four days after a high-profile San Diego real estate agent was charged in connection with an alleged mortgage loan fraud, the agent's image disappeared from "For Sale" signs around town.
Eric Elegado, whose face is a common sight on bus benches and signage around Mira Mesa, is considered an expert in real estate short sales in San Diego County.
The 47-year-old Escondido resident was arrested one week ago and along with his wife, Charmagne Toledo Elegado and seven associates, was charged with wire fraud and other felonies involving falsified mortgage applications submitted to lenders in 2002 to 2007.
By Friday, the common "Eric Elegado & Associates" signs in front of homes had vanished and were replaced by generic Prudential Real Estate signs.
The case has prompted a lot of reaction from people who know the outgoing real estate agent and his larger-than-life persona.
Elegado recorded several YouTube clips offering his advice on successful marketing, walking users through an average day. He posed for pictures with fellow agents at seminars and conferences. He even had a bobblehead doll crafted in his own likeness.
Elegado also appeared to have a fascination with luxury cars. Photos posted on Elegado's Facebook and MySpace pages show the real estate agent posing with a White Phantom Rolls Royce among other sports cars almost as a sign of his success.
On Friday, a neighbor of Elegado's brother told NBCSanDiego that Elegado visited his sibling and was often spotted driving "nice cars."
Through their attorney, the couple denied they lived a lavish lifestyle but instead lived in a rental home with grandparents and nine children.
“The Elegados are not rich people. The prosecution would have everyone believe they made millions and millions and millions of dollars yet they live in a home with grandparents, parents and children - all nine of them,” Elegado’s defense attorney Paul Pfingst said outside federal court Monday.
Prosecutor Joseph Orabona said the Elegados "targeted low income immigrants" in San Diego by coaching them on how to fill out loan applications for home purchases.
Elegado began his real estate career in the early 1980's and worked for Prudential California Reality at the time of his arrest.
Charmagne Toledo Elegado, 47, of Escondido was an account executive at New Century Mortgage at the time the alleged fraud occurred according to the federal indictment.
Co-defendant Theodore Cohen, 54, of San Diego served as the Chief Financial Advisor for E Real Estate & Loans, Inc.
Other employees of E Real Estate & Loans named in the indictment are real estate and loan officers Minh Nguyen,28, of San Marcos; Alexander V. Garcia, 38, of San Diego; Roman Macabulos, 38, of San Diego; Ramin Lotfi, 36, of San Diego and Roderick Huerto, 34, of San Diego.
Regidor Pacal, 51, of San Diego, an E Real Estate agent who purchased several properties that were financed by New Century Mortgage, was also named in the indictment.
All accused pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday.
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