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'Fluffing' loan info leads to guilty plea for fraud


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POSTED: Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sierra Hethcote said she thought she was helping a single mother with four children when she signed loan applications that contained false information to purchase the woman's Mililani home.

Hethcote, 26, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to commit mail, wire and loan fraud in the latest mortgage fraud case on Oahu being prosecuted in federal court.

“;It was just to help them out and I lost everything,”; she said.

As the straw purchaser, Hethcote never intended to live in the home or pay off the mortgage. She received a fee of between $12,000 and $15,000.

At the time, Hethcote processed loans and was a loan officer for the mortgage brokerage company Accel Mortgage, LLC.

She said the owner of the company approached her about helping a woman in distress. The applications said she earned $20,000 per month.

“;I guess that was fluffing it,”; she said.

Based on her loan applications, a mortgage company on the mainland approved two loans totaling $555,364 for the purchase of the home at 95-226 Waipono Place said Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Connors.

Hethcote is the first defendant to plead guilty in the case. She has also agreed to testify on behalf of the government.

Another defendant, Jacob Thorp, who was also a loan officer for Accel, is scheduled to plead guilty next Wednesday.

The other defendants are Accel co-owner Welton Kalani, loan officer Bobby Wood, branch manager Audra Palomares, New Horizons Financial owner Stephen Balino and Carlton Yim, broker in charge of real estate company Walter P. Yim & Associates. They are also charged with committing mortgage fraud involving a home on Hoala Street in Aiea.