Criminal Justice News

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chico Developer Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Mortgage Fraud

SACRAMENTO—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that William E. Baker, 66, of Chico, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Edward J. Garcia to 18 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Baker pleaded guilty to mail fraud for his involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Baker falsified the sales prices of five homes he developed and sold in Chico in 2007. Baker wrote kickback checks of approximately $30,000 to other conspirators after the close of escrow. The conspirators then used this money to pay buyers for purchasing the homes. None of the kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders who financed the properties. Altogether, Baker gave $160,000 to his conspirators as kickbacks.

According to court papers, Baker received leniency in his sentence due to frail health and other mitigating factors.

Co-defendants Garret G. Gililland, III, Shane Burreson, Niche S. Fortune, and others have pleaded guilty to participating in the same scheme. Fortune’s sister, Kesha Danine Fortune Haynie, 41, of Chico, a loan broker who processed a number of the fraudulent loans, was convicted of mail fraud on March 28, 2012 after a six-day jury trial.

This case is the product of an extensive, joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Butte County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Russell L. Carlberg and S. Robert Tice-Raskin are prosecuting the case.

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