SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - A former realtor and Christian radio show host was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday for a mortgage fraud scheme targeting Spanish speaking homeowners that totaled more than $2 million, according to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.
Edwin Parada, 33, pleaded guilty Feb. 17 to 24 counts of fraud affecting a total of 31 victims, said district attorney's office spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman.
Parada, a former realtor and pastor who also hosted a paid Spanish-language radio show that dealt with real estate and religion, contacted his victims through his work in real estate and his radio show, according to Stillman. He maintained an office in the Outer Mission district at 5700 Mission St.
Parada offered to assist victims, many of whom were struggling with mortgage payments, in buying, selling or refinancing a home and persuaded them to give him money, which he failed to return, according to prosecutors.
In some cases Parada gained titles to the homes, although it is not clear that victims knew he was doing so, or refinanced them and withdrew a large amount of equity, which he pocketed, without the victims' knowledge, Stillman said.
"Many immigrants come to America with dreams of owning a home," District Attorney George Gascon said Friday. "For Edwin Parada's victims, these dreams were shattered when he preyed on their vulnerabilities and stole their hard-earned money."
Parada was first charged in December 2008 with mortgage and investment fraud involving 12 victims, in a complaint alleging grand theft and taking of money in excess of $200,000. Charges involving an additional 19 victims were added in May 2009, including 12 counts of grand theft, three charges relating to tax evasion and three excessive taking charges.
The funds were allegedly laundered through family members and a family business, according to Stillman, and two of Parada's relatives were also arrested on suspicion of mortgage fraud and related charges in 2011.
The cases against Carlos Parada, Edwin's brother, and Karla Parada, his niece, and their alleged associate, Geovanny Avendano, have not yet been resolved, Stillman said.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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