- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A federal court jury in Las Vegas found a former real estate agent from Arizona guilty of conspiracy and fraud in a mortgage lending scheme that prosecutors said bilked lenders out of more than $24 million before the housing market collapsed in late 2007.

After a third trial, Brett Depue, 42, of Gilbert, Arizona, was convicted Monday on the second day of jury deliberations, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.

One juror had been dismissed Friday and replaced with an alternate after notifying Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt that he thought he had been drugged or poisoned during deliberations.

Depue represented himself in court. His first trial in 2012 ended in a hung jury. A second jury convicted him several months later. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March overturned Depue’s nearly 22-year sentence, finding that he didn’t fully understand his decision not to be represented by a lawyer.

That led to his third trial, which took four days.

Depue could face 240 years in prison and $8 million in fines after his conviction on one count of conspiracy to commit mail, bank and wire fraud, and seven counts of wire fraud. The judge ordered Depue held in federal custody pending sentencing Nov. 9.

Ten co-conspirators also were convicted in the case that Bogden said involved more than 100 homes in Las Vegas and Henderson.

Bogden said that from 2005 to 2007, Depue used businesses in Las Vegas to recruit so-called straw buyers with good credit to purchase homes that Depue then used to obtain mortgages using false and fraudulent information.

Later, Depue used so-called double escrows to buy and quickly resell properties to straw buyers at an inflated price, Bogden said.


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