SACRAMENTO -- Two Contra Costa County women were among seven people indicted by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from a mortgage fraud scheme, the U.S. Attorney's office announced Wednesday.

Elsie Pamela Fuller, 38, of Richmond, Leona Yeargin, 46, of San Pablo and five others were charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and making false statements in a scam that involved the purchase of at least 23 homes, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner of the Eastern District of California. Fuller and Yeargin also were charged with aggravated identity theft, Wagner said.

The indictment alleges that Aleksandr Kovalev, 50, of Rocklin, a real estate developer who built and sold property, teamed with Arthur Chang Menefee, 42, of Stockton, and Janice Riddick of Sacramento, both licensed real estate sellers, to recruit straw buyers for residential properties. Those three, and two others from outside the state, made cash incentive payments to the straw buyers and concealed the payments from lenders.

Fuller, the indictment says, helped prepare loan applications that misrepresented the assets of the straw buyers, and, with Yeargin, used the identity of another individual without that person's knowledge in a bid to purchase property from Kovalev as part of the scheme, Wagner said.


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Fuller and Yeargin face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for their part in the scheme.

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH.