Santa Margarita man going to prison for mortgage fraud scheme

A Santa Margarita man was recently sentenced to prison for participating in a complex mortgage fraud scheme operated out of Santa Maria.

Brian Armet, 36, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty in July 2011 to conspiring to defraud lenders by preparing loan packages that contained false employment information about prospective borrowers, according to a recent news release by the FBI. According to previous Tribune reports, Armet graduated from Coast Union High School in Cambria and from Cal Poly with a degree in business.

Two Santa Maria men were also sentenced after pleading guilty earlier this year to assisting Armet with mortgage fraud: Rigoberto Hernandez, 37, received eight months in prison, and Julio Tamayo, 42, received six months.

The three were also ordered to pay $2.4 million in restitution to a total of four lending victims, who suffered losses as a result of having funded loans based on false information.

The scheme operated through Custom House Home Loans, a Santa-Maria-based mortgage company started by Armet in early 2006. Armet was a licensed mortgage broker and the main loan officer at Custom House Home Loans, where he prepared and submitted loan application packages with the assistance of Hernandez and Tamayo.

When information was insufficient to ensure that a client would qualify for a loan, the three would arrange with employers in the Santa Maria area to verify that they employed the applicant. Armet included the false employment information in loan applications that were submitted to lenders, including Homecoming Financial, Freddie Mac, Bank of America, and Carrington Mortgage Company. Lenders relied on these fraudulent loan applications, resulting in 19 defaulted loans.