High profile real estate agent Eric Elegado, his wife Charmagne and seven associates are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and other charges involving an alleged mortgage loan fraud.
Elegado, whose image is on bus benches and signage around Mira Mesa, is known as an expert in real estate short sales in San Diego County.
He appeared in a downtown courtroom Monday to face criminal charges.
The 47-year-old Escondido resident was arrested Friday and named in a 12-page indictment.
Eric and Charmagne Elegado and seven other defendants were charged with wire fraud and other felonies involving falsified mortgage applications submitted to lenders in 2002 to 2007 according to sources.
Prosecutors said the defendants processed more than 100 phony loan apps, and that almost all the properties purchased with these loans are now in foreclosure, with lending banks losing $15 million so far.
Prosecutor Joseph Orabona says the Elegados "targeted low income immigrants" in San Diego by coaching them on how to fill out loan applications for home purchases.
Orabona said Elegado's wife "defrauded her own parents" adding "she's the most culpable person in this criminal enterprise."
The defendants allegedly used false income numbers and other false information to help clients get mortgages for which they didn't qualify.
The judge set bond at $75,000 for Charmagne Elegado and at $100,000 for Eric Elegado.
Prosecutors had requested $500,000 bond.
Defense attorneys said the Elegados need to be out of jail to care for their five children and Mrs. Elegado's elderly and sick parents.
“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.
“They are not affluent people,” he said adding the family lives in a rented home.
Elegado began his real estate career in the early 1980's according to his company website. The site lists Elegado's office as Prudential California Reality, 3790 Via de la Valle, Suite 201 however a staffer who answered the phone Tuesday morning said he worked primarily out of the Mira Mesa office.
Charmagne 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.
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