Mortgage Fraud/Indoor Marijuana Grow Operation
June 25 (Fresno, CA) – Jenny Chi Ha, aka Phuong A. Ha, 44, of Fresno, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill to 21 months in prison for her role in fraudulently acquiring two residential properties in Fresno that were used for growing marijuana, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
After the completion of her sentence, Ha must serve five years of supervised release and will be required to repay the lenders for their losses incurred in the mortgage fraud scheme.
“Thanks to the collaboration of many law enforcement agencies, an extensive scheme to defraud home lenders for the purpose of facilitating the indoor cultivation of marijuana in Fresno and Mendocino Counties was detected and dismantled,” Wagner said. “As a result of the high level of cooperation in our law enforcement community, seven defendants have been prosecuted, restitution to the lenders has been ordered, and over 3,600 marijuana plants have been seized.”
According to court documents, Ha, a former card dealer at Table Mountain gaming casino, conspired to commit mail fraud when applying for mortgages by overstating her wages and tips at Table Mountain, failing to acknowledge her children as dependents, failing to disclose the fact that she was in the process of acquiring more than one property, and misrepresenting that the properties would serve as her primary residence. There were five properties involved in the overall mortgage fraud scheme that were used for growing marijuana. They have all gone into foreclosure, resulting in significant losses to various lending institutions.
In sentencing, Judge O’Neill considered the seriousness of her crime and the fact that the mortgage fraud, which allowed Ha to acquire 100 percent financing in 2007 for two of several marijuana grow houses involved in the scheme, was “representative of a larger problem that gripped the real estate market at the time of the offense.”
All six other defendants in the case, including Ha’s live-in boyfriend, Xi A. “Andy” Lieng, aka A. Xi Lieng, 43, have been found guilty. Lieng, who was recently found guilty of marijuana cultivation and participating in a drug conspiracy following a two-week jury trial in May, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 23, 2012. Lieng’s brothers, Tony Lieng, aka Ung A. Lieng, 38, of Clovis, and Richard Lieng, 29, of Fresno, previously pleaded guilty and are also scheduled for sentencing in July. Tony Lieng’s wife, Lynn Truong, aka Linh Thi Truong, 40, of Clovis, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mortgage fraud in connection with the acquisition of a grow house in Willits, Calif. and is scheduled for sentencing on August 27.
Monique Le Nguyen, aka Monique Dzung Le, 62, of Milpitas, pleaded guilty in the conspiracy. She was the mortgage broker for five properties acquired in connection with the drug conspiracy. Shirley Wong, aka Ngoc Le Vuong, 40, of San Jose, also pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud in connection with the acquisition of two grow houses in Clovis and Fresno. Nguyen and Wong have already served their prison terms and were ordered to make restitution to the lenders who financed the properties.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a focused interagency program investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States. OCDETF leverages the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The Fresno Resident Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Fresno County Sheriff’s Department led the investigation with assistance from the Fresno Police Department, Clovis Police Department, Fresno Fire Department, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, and Marin County Sheriff’s Department. Primary support for the mortgage fraud portion of the investigation was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office own in-house Mortgage Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen A. Escobar and Yasin Mohammad prosecuted the case.