Key Player in Mortgage Fraud Scheme Gets Eight Years in Prison Statewide scheme victimized dozens of individuals

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that a former Hillsborough County resident was convicted of multiple charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Bradford C. Peck was the point person for a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scam that stretched across the state and involved one of the nation’s largest sub-prime mortgage companies. He was prosecuted in Polk County by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution after a joint investigation by state and local law enforcement.

“This scheme preyed on people who were trying to make improvements to their homes and instead were victimized and cheated out of not only the home repairs but also their hard-earned money,” said Attorney General McCollum. “Without the cooperation of state and local law enforcement, this criminal operation might still be in business.”

Peck, 31, was part of a criminal enterprise which submitted nearly 130 loan applications to Argent Mortgage Company which resulted in funding for approximately $13 million in home loans. The three-year investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency, the Pinellas County Department of Justice and Consumer Services, the Tampa Police Department, and the Office of Statewide Prosecution was initiated by consumer complaints about incomplete or substandard construction work performed by construction companies affiliated with Peck. Investigators with a multi-agency task force determined that Peck would meet directly with homeowners to give estimates on home construction work and his associates would then secure fraudulently-obtained mortgages to finance the projects. The construction work, when provided, was often substandard and incomplete.

“When criminals use construction and home improvement fraud tied to mortgage fraud, it can be disastrous to unsuspecting consumers,” said Chief Investigator Kevin Jackson, Hillsborough County Consumer Protection. “This joint effort put an end to this criminal enterprise and saved consumers severe economic losses.”

The charges against Peck include crimes which resulted in the processing and approval of 30 fraudulent residential mortgage loans collectively worth nearly $3 million. Argent executives and outside counsel cooperated with the investigation and assisted the victims in this case, many of whom were facing potential foreclosure actions. Peck was arrested in July 2007 after investigators conducted hundreds of interviews, issued approximately 250 subpoenas and reviewed tens of thousands of documents.

“This type of fraud will simply not be tolerated in our state,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “We’ll continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to ensure the perpetrators of scams like these are brought to justice.”

Peck, most recently of Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty late on Friday to Polk County Circuit Court Judge Neil Roddenbery. In addition to his prison sentence, he must make restitution to Argent as well as reimbursement to the state for the cost of the investigation and prosecution.

For more information, contact:

Kevin Jackson
Chief Investigator
Hillsborough Consumer Protection
(813) 903-3425

Sandi Copes
Press Secretary
Office of the Attorney General
(850) 245-0150

Trena Reddick
Public Information Officer
FDLE - Tampa Bay
(813) 878-7239 or 878-7300