A onetime real estate agent from White Bear Lake is going to prison for running a mortgage fraud scheme that involved 102 homes and cheated lenders out of at least $7 million.
Robert L. Rick, 53, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul to three years in prison for mail and wire fraud. Details about restitution have yet to be determined.
Rick’s attorney had argued in a pre-sentencing filing that Rick should get probation rather than prison time because he had never been in trouble with the law before, admitted to the scheme and helped investigators pursue others who were involved. The defense also pointed out that Rick is the sole caregiver for his ailing father and has a 9-year-old son.
According to Rick’s plea agreement:
From 2005 through 2007, Rick secured investors to buy multiple residential properties and receive kickbacks from the loan proceeds. Builders involved in the scheme sold homes at reduced prices and appraisers assessed the homes at inflated prices. Unsuspecting lenders awarded mortgage loans to the buyers based on inflated prices. The excess was used to pay kickbacks to the buyers.
Rick bought at least eight homes and collected nearly $400,000 through those purchases.