A 34-year-old Sherman Oaks man accused of involvement in a Southern California mortgage fraud scheme with West Hollywood resident Patrick Joseph Soria pleaded not guilty Wednesday in an Orange County courtroom to nearly five dozen felony charges.
Michael Charles Jackson was charged July 31 with four counts of grand theft and 53 counts of attempting to file a false or forged instrument, with sentencing enhancement allegations of aggravated white-collar crime between $100,000 to $500,000 and property damage exceeding $200,000.
Jackson is due back in court on Friday for a pretrial hearing at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
According to a motion to increase Jackson’s bail from $40,000 to $344,000, investigators alleged he “was an integral part of the fraud scheme used by (co-defendant) Patrick Joseph Soria’s companies West Inc. and West H&A LLC to transfer title on residential properties via fraudulent substitution of trustees and fraudulent assignment of mortgages/deeds of trust… without the authorization of the beneficiary lender.”
Jackson was living with Soria, 33, of West Hollywood and had “intimate knowledge of the operations of the business and its day-to-day activities,” investigators alleged. Soria has not yet been arrested in the case.
At least five civil lawsuits have now been filed against Soria and Jackson’s shell companies; four are in Los Angeles and one is in Orange County. The suits were filed in Superior Court in L.A. and Orange County.
One of the civil suits, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles last year by attorneys for Nationstar Mortgage against Soria, Jackson and others associated with the shell companies they operated, claims “defendants, strangers to the subject loans and having never lent a penny to anyone, created a criminal enterprise by which they hijacked ‘thousands’ of mortgages via void assignments all in the name of helping” borrowers.
“They have “helped” a borrower and her elderly mother by sending “thugs” to her home at night to evict her. The “thugs” banged on the windows, attempted to climb the walls of the home and attempted to break the door. … They have “helped” a family pay $465,000 to the Defendants for the purchase of a home Defendants claimed to own. Defendants were even accommodating enough to offer their own title insurance to the family when the family could not acquire title insurance elsewhere. The family wired the money, moved into the home, and a few days later were fined for trespassing when they found out that the Defendants never owned the property they sold them. “.. Defendants also ‘helped’ a borrower, with a disabled wife and a disabled child lose his home by lying to him about “refinancing” his loan, again requiring the borrower pay Defendants.
It was not clear why the case was filed in Orange County and the District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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