SAN JOSE -- After being on the lam for 17 years, a former San Jose couple flew back from Pakistan, surrendered to federal agents and pleaded guilty to bank fraud on Wednesday, officials said.

Zahid and Riffat Ali were indicted by a federal grand jury in 1996 but fled to their native country before they could be arrested, according to a U.S. Department of Justice release. Extradition efforts failed, but a deal was worked out with prosecutors under which they agreed to return.

According to the indictment, the Alis scammed a bank out of nearly $439,000 by falsifying loan documents in order to sell their Bird Avenue residence to someone who never would have qualified.

"They admitted that they knew that his income and assets would not qualify him for a loan if the loan application had contained a truthful explanation of his circumstances," reads the news release. "So they filled out a draft of the loan application that contained several falsehoods."

That included the applicant's income, assets and employment -- his job was listed as at a company created by the Alis, according to the document. It also states that the couple deposited $60,000 to $80,000 into the applicant's bank account and falsely confirmed his employment.

They will be sentenced March 26, 2014. While the maximum penalty of such fraud is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine plus restitution, no information about the deal reached with prosecutors was available on Wednesday.


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The defendants were released on $50,000 bail each.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.