- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CONCORD, Calif. (AP) - A top sales executive for a Northern California-based developer masterminded a mortgage fraud scheme that cost banks $150 million, according to a federal grand jury indictment.

Ayman Shahid pleaded not guilty on Monday in federal court in Oakland to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and 17 bank fraud counts, the Contra Costa Times reported (https://bit.ly/1o2KMZ2 ).

Shahid, 38, of Danville, managed Discovery Sales Inc., the sales arm of Discovery Home Builders and Albert D. Seeno Construction Co., which have active developments in Contra Costa, Alameda, Solano, Butte and Yolo counties, according to federal prosecutors and the Contra Costa Times. The two companies are part of a giant development and home-building operation founded by the late Albert Seeno. The Seeno family also holds major stakes in companies that own the Peppermill Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada.

The indictment alleges Shahid provided secret monetary incentives to home buyers during the height of the financial crisis so they would qualify for bank loans, allowing Discovery to continue selling homes at inflated prices.

The sale prices of the homes totaled almost $230 million.

Prosecutors say $150 million in loans eventually went into foreclosure or short sales.

Shahid’s attorney, Jim Brosnahan, said the case against his client was “very weak.”

“The case never should have been brought,” he told the Contra Costa Times. “And when we get to court, the evidence will prove it.”

The FBI raided the Concord offices of Discovery Builders and Albert D. Seeno Construction Co. in 2010 and has charged several other people in connection with the scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California said in a release.

Seeno family members have not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing, according to the Contra Costa Times.

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Information from: Contra Costa Times, https://www.contracostatimes.com

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