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Defendant a no-show at mortgage fraud court hearing

--- Delavan store owner had agreed to plead guilty

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Sept. 6, 2007, 2:28 p.m.)

An expected guilty-plea hearing for a man charged with participating in a real estate fraud scheme didn’t happen Wednesday.

Jose Valadez, 53, failed to appear at his arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court yesterday afternoon. He will appear Sept. 12 or have a warrant issued for his arrest, according to court documents.

Valadez, owner of Valadez Furniture in Delavan, had agreed to plead guilty for acting as a straw buyer in the sale of a Delavan Lake property that later went into foreclosure.

A straw buyer is someone who provides personal information to allow a home sale to go through, but never intends to live on the property.

The fraud scam Valadez is tied to involved the fraudulent sale of at least 19 Walworth County properties orchestrated by James Lytle, a mortgage broker who also signed a plea agreement and is expected to plead guilty to a wire fraud charge.

Valadez’s company allegedly provided information to verify employment and bank account information of several purported home buyers, whose names were used in fraudulent real estate transactions, according to court documents.

Paul Barrett, Valadez’s attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment. He did not know the reason for his client’s non-appearance, according to court documents.

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