A Parkland woman was ordered Friday to pay nearly $6.3 million in restitution and serve more than five years in prison for her role in two separate mortgage fraud schemes in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn sentenced Michelle Austin-Wilks, 38, to 63 months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. He also ordered her to pay $6,269,547 in restitution to victims of her fraud. Austin-Wilks had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud.
As president and director of Direct Title Escrow Services, Austin-Wilks was accused by federal prosecutors of preparing false settlement statements that enticed lenders to give more than $9 million in loans in a Palm Beach County scheme that had straw buyers submitting fake loan applications and supporting documents. A straw buyer makes a purchase on behalf of another.
One of her partners in the scheme, mortgage broker Ghaith Al Nahar, 40, of Boynton Beach, pleaded guilty and was earlier sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,863,109.30 in restitution. An employee at Al Nahar’s office, Romy Defay, 28, of West Palm Beach, was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $441,747 in restitution. Straw buyer Jeffrey Gilbert was sentenced to three years of probation and $441,747 in restitution while another straw buyer, Philip Jay Newman, was ordered to spend 21 months in prison and pay $662,051.42 in restitution.
In the second case, Austin-Wilks was accused of plotting in a similar scheme to fraudulently buy and sell homes, this time in Broward.
Mortgage broker, Jinnie Mathurin, was earlier sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to pay $1,170,443.71 in restitution. The straw buyer, Guhier Florvilus, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,421,233 in restitution.
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