image001The statewide grand jury indicted eight people for targeting distressed homeowners as part of a fraudulent short-sale scheme. The scheme allowed the defendants to defraud banks and lenders who held mortgages for the distressed homeowners, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s office.

Wendy Thomas, 46, Chicago, previously of Thornton; Cristina Nicole Smith, 42, Thornton; Kurt Smith, 58, Thornton; Sheila Gaston, 59, Elizabeth; Sheila Giberti, 45, Broomfield; Duane Thomas, 44, Thornton; Christopher Consol, 43, Englewood; and Janice Gardner, 46, Brighton were charged with multiple offenses, including violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act.

If convicted, each could be sentenced up to 24 years per count.

Seven of the eight defendants are alleged to have manipulated homeowners who were facing foreclosure. The allegations said the defendants created and processed forged and fraudulent documents relating to the properties, using these forged documents and other actions to defraud the lenders and subsequent buyers.

“This group took advantage of multiple homeowners, using deception and forged documents, to create illegal profits on the sale of various properties,” said Attorney General John Suthers in announcing the indictments.

“The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is committed to combating organized white collar crime including schemes such as this,” said CBI Director Ronald Sloan.

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Also involved was the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Inspector General, the Department of Regulatory Agencies and the Colorado Division of Real Estate.

“The individuals named in this indictment have allegedly committed fraud against individual victims and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said Acting Inspector General Michael P. Stephens. “This behavior is unacceptable and anyone found guilty will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”

The group allegedly used their fraudulent scheme on eight properties in the Denver metro area.