Swindler is convicted of 22 felony counts


POSTED: Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Nevada businessman was convicted Wednesday of 22 felony counts, for swindling banks and two struggling homeowners on Oahu out of their homes and loan proceeds.

A federal jury convicted John Gilbert Mendoza, 58, on one count of conspiracy, 10 counts of mail and wire fraud, two counts of loan fraud, six counts of money laundering and three counts of failure to file a tax return, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced this week.

Five others have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme and are awaiting sentencing.

; U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni said the evidence showed Mendoza, president of a Nevada corporation with bank accounts in Hawaii, had befriended Hawaii homeowners facing foreclosure. He told them he had a plan to stop foreclosure proceedings that would allow them to keep their homes.

But instead, Mendoza organized the sale of the homes to third-party straw buyers, who took out loans in their names and used falsified information concerning income, who was going to live in the home and who would make monthly payments.

After obtaining the loans, Mendoza deposited the proceeds totaling more than $431,000 into his own accounts.

When the loans were defaulted on, the properties were foreclosed on and sold.

Mendoza is scheduled to be sentenced June 1 by U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright and faces a maximum 30 years' imprisonment for each of the loan fraud counts, 20 years for each wire and mail fraud count, 10 years for each money laundering count, five years for the conspiracy count and one year for each of the counts of failure to file a tax return.