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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Multi-county mortgage scam lands three men prison terms

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CLEARWATER — The wives got probation, the husbands prison.

Craig Hudson, William Bolton and David Barile were all sentenced to time behind bars today for their roles in a mortgage scheme that defrauded 13 lending institutions of $8.8 million.

Their wives — Lynne Hudson, Stephanie Bolton and Melissa Barile — received probation for their parts.

“You did wrong, you need to be punished for it,” Circuit Judge Keith Meyer told Hudson before sentencing him to five years in prison, the stiffest penalty meted out.

From April 2003 through December 2007, the three couples, plus a seventh defendant, Eric Rivero, ran a scheme where bogus information was incorporated into mortgage applications so the lending institutions would loan them money to buy properties.

All told, there were 50 fraudulent applications involving 33 properties in several Florida counties, including Hillsborough and Pinellas, assistant statewide prosecutor Michael Williams told Meyer.

Of the 33 properties, 22 were foreclosed upon. Harsher penalties were sought for the husbands because they masterminded the operation, or ran it. Those who defrauded the lending institutions of the most money drew longer prison terms.

While Hudson was sentenced to five years, to be followed by two years’ probation, Bolton was sentenced to four years in prison, followed by one year of probation. Barile was sentenced to 18 months, followed by three years’ probation.

Hudson had previously pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering; Bolton to two counts of grand theft and one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering and Barile to one count of racketeering.

Barile’s wife Melissa, who had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy, was sentenced to five years’ probation, just as Lynne Hudson was earlier. Stephanie Bolton had previously been sentenced to two years’ probation.

Rivero was also sentenced earlier to five years’ probation.

The wives fell into line with what their husbands were doing, Meyer said.

“You involved your wife in this, as did the other defendants who are going to prison,” he told Barile.

Barile incorporated First Mutual Mortgage Co., based in Tampa, in February 2003, and most of the bogus applications were made through the company. Hudson eventually bought it, and Bolton managed it, court records show.

The lending institutions, which included Lehman Bros. Bank, offered good interest rates, as long as the applicants were going to use the properties as their primary residences.

The defendants, and some of the people for whom they submitted mortgage applications, appeared on paper as if that were the case. But in some of the frauds, they planned on acquiring as many properties as they could under favorable conditions so they could rent them, court records show.

They also inflated their own incomes — or those on whose behalf they submitted mortgage applications — in order to qualify.

For instance, Stephanie Bolton, an attorney, claimed she was making $11,000 a month at Zimmet, Unice, Salzman, Heyman & Jardine in Palm Harbor — or $132,000 — when she was making $42,000 a year, court documents say. At the time, she was trying to buy a property at 3316 Spy Tower Court in Valrico.

Lynne Hudson tried passing herself off as a model making $8,500 a month, when she was making $6,052 a month as a marketing representative at Suncoast Title of Tampa, court documents say. At the time, she was trying to get a $285,000 mortgage loan for property at 10612 Rochester Way in Tampa.

The defendants also created jobs for people who didn’t have one — or, at least, the right one.

Bill “Billy” Womack, a convicted drug dealer, wanted a mortgage of roughly $378,000 to buy property at 8715 Bay Crest Lane in Tampa, court records show.

He was represented in his loan application as the director of sales at Waterline Construction, a Tampa company that makes sea walls and boat lifts, with a monthly salary of $12,556.

It was an easy thing to do. David Barile, at one point, was part owner of the company, and Melissa worked in the office there. She once said Craig Hudson was a sales representative there, when Hudson was trying to buy some property.

sthompson@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-6504

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