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Mortgage fraud appraiser sentenced to 15 months

April 19, 2013

The appraiser who was crucial to an east side mortgage fraud scheme was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison this afternoon as more than 30 supporters looked on, some sobbing.

“Oh my God,” someone in the packed courtroom shouted as the judge, James K. Bredar, sentenced David C. Christian to a sentence well below what’s called for by federal guidelines, which range toward four years.

Christian admitted his role in 16 loans that cost lenders—most bailed out by federal taxpayers—nearly $2.5 million. The fraud was masterminded by a mortgage broker named Joshua Goldberg who, with his husband, has since fled to Israel. Goldberg was indicted in January but it is unclear when or if he will be extradited.

Both the prosecution and defense agreed that Christian was “browbeaten” by Goldberg into providing bogus appraisals for small, unrenovated rowhouses in the Upper Fells Point neighborhood between 2004 and 2008. As City Paper revealed in a 2008 story, the houses were worth about $120,000 at the market’s peak. Christian’s appraisals valued them at $300,000. In some cases, photographs of renovated interiors were included in the appraisals in order to fool the lenders.

Another central figure in the scheme, Ken Koehler, received an 18 month sentence. At one point Bredar asked a prosecutor to assess Christian’s culpability compared to that of Koehler, who sold most of the houses in the scam. “There is a necessity for some correlation,” the judge said.

In passing the sentence, Bredar observed that Christian, who left the real estate business and works at Eddies of Roland Park, where he is beloved, did not earn more than his $350 fee for the appraisals. He did get himself a crooked loan though in a later deal.

“His involvement is not so much out of personal greed, but personal weakness,” the judge said. “But it’s not an excuse.

“At his moment of truth in his professional life, he was weak,” Bredar said. “And that integrity is critical to our well being as a society.”

Christian’s lawyer, Andrew C.  White, gathered Christian’s family and friends to tell them that, with good time credits, Christian may be home by Christmas.

He owes restitution of more than $2.4 million.