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Mortgage fraud scammer Kohler sentenced to federal prison plus $1 million in restitution

April 4, 2013

Ken Kohler, the one-time man about Upper Fells Point whose strange real estate dealings City Paper explored in late 2008, was sentenced on April 3 to 18 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for his part in a mortgage fraud scheme. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar also ordered Kohler to pay restitution of $1,007,812.

As City Paper first reported, Kohler was at the center of a ring that heisted over $1 million from several lenders—at least one of which was itself helmed by a criminal. Koehler bought shabby rowhouses for $10,000 or $20,000 and sold them to George Agelakis and his brother Emmanuel, for sticker prices ranging up to $360,000, including hefty down payments.

In reality the brothers paid nothing down and received kickbacks for serving as straw buyers, the government alleges. Both have moved from Baltimore and are alleged to be living in Canada and Wyoming, respectively; neither has been charged federally.

An appraiser named David C. Christian cooked up bogus appraisals by substituting photos of renovated rowhouses for the actual properties He faces sentencing on April 19. A shady mortgage broker named Joshua Goldberg arranged the financing. He was indicted in January but has moved to Israel with his husband, Bayardo Alvarez.

Goldberg was also central to the scheme. Before he was a mortgage broker, he was a partner with Koehler in a company called Voicebank, which leased tech workers to other employers on a contract basis. That company had stopped operating by 2001 but Goldberg and Koehler used its ghost to dummy up false income documentation for borrowers. Says a press release from U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein:

The Voicebank phone number activated a voice mail message accessible to both Koeher and his partner.  If called upon by the lender, either Koehler or his partner would verify the employment or income information supplied on the loan application.

To get loans in 2006, Koehler and Goldberg claimed Koehler’s monthly income from Voicebank was $20,000.

Many of the loans Goldberg arranged for the crew came from Taylor Bean and Whittaker, a non-bank lender based in Central Florida. Taylor Bean flamed out in 2009 and its flamboyant CEO, Lee Farkas, was convicted of wire fraud and sentenced to 30 years in June of 2011.

It is not at all clear how Koehler, who was seen working as a waiter after his real estate scam was exposed, will come up with the million bucks he owes the feds.