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First conviction made in mortgage fraud scheme

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Oct. 3, 2007, 2:42 p.m.)

James J. Lytle, a former mortgage broker from Lake Geneva, became the first of potentially many individuals convicted of participating in a mortgage fraud scheme that swindled eight lending companies out of more than $4 million.

Lytle, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud, a federal felony. He will be sentenced Jan. 10 and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

To execute the scheme, Lytle falsified real estate documents and used straw buyers-people who posed as homebuyers but have no intent of living at a property-to secure home loans on houses with inflated values in Walworth County, according to court documents.

He took between $3,000 and $20,000 per sale and used the money to pay the straw buyers and others involved with him in the scheme. The scheme often had property sellers involved and profiting from the sales, which involved almost 20 homes throughout the county, according to court documents.

Two other men he worked with have signed plea agreements to similar charges but have not yet had arraignment hearings. More charges are expected, Assistant United States Attorney Carol Kraft said earlier.

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