TAMPA - Five people, including a Westchase couple, filed 50 fraudulent mortgage loan applications over a five year period to try and take advantage of the state's real estate boom, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
All five were arrested in a coordinated early morning raid, and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail. Craig Hudson and his wife, Lynn Hudson, were arrested at their half-million dollar home in a gated community in Westchase. They've been charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
"That's crazy," said neighbor Tessa Mattes. "You assume you live in a nice neighborhood with, you know, people that are half decent. And then they do stuff like this."
David Barile and his wife Melissa Barile were charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Eric Rivero was charged with racketeering and conspiracy.
The FDLE claims the five suspects filed 50 fraudulent mortgage applications on 33 properties in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Hernando, Osceola, Seminole, and Orange counties between 2003 and 2007.
"Running a scam to capitalize on the then-booming housing market clearly backfired in this case,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey in a prepared statement. Bailey said investigators worked for four years to "untangle this complex web of falsified paperwork and foreclosed properties.”
Investigators believe the suspects managed to collect $8.8 million in fraudulent loans on 33 properties. Twenty-two of them ended up in foreclosure.
"'It nauseates the hell out of me," said real estate agent Mary Grimme, who lives near two of the suspects. "It brings down all the values. It's just not right. I'm glad they got arrested."
Calls to attorneys for the suspects were not immediately returned.