West Chester family indicted for mortgage fraud

Posted by Trina Edwards - email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Seven people have been indicted for a mortgage fraud conspiracy that took place between 2004 and 2009.

The FBI and IRS announced the indictment Thursday against Debbie Sferrazza, 45, of West Chester; her husband, Salvatore Sferrazza, 70; her brother, Keiron Ashurst, 44, of Fairfield; her daughter, Whitney Bonapfel, 21, of Cincinnati; her son, James Ashurst, 26, of West Chester; her daughter in law, Heather Ashurst, 26, and one of her employees, Tabatha Sturgill, 34.

The 33-count indictment alleges conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and the filing of tax returns.

Each count is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, except for filing tax income tax returns, which is punishable by up to three years imprisonment.

The indictment alleges that Debbie Sferrazza worked in the mortgage lending and real estate industry through her management of several different companies, including Alpha Mortgage, LLC; Alpha Mortgage Exchange, LLC; S.D.S. Processing, LLC; and Target Loan Packaging. The indictment accuses the seven of operating a mortgage fraud conspiracy that involved family members and mortgage brokerage business from at least 2004 to 2009. The charges center around 14 real estate transactions involving eight residential properties during that time period.

According to the indictment, Debbie Sferrazza, Tabatha Sturgill the others used their mortgage lending companies to submit fraudulent loan applications for herself, her family and her customers. The loan applications showed a pattern of inflating the borrower's income by, among other methods, creating false verifications of employment, fake paystubs, fake social security benefit letters, and fake W-2 forms. The loan applications sometimes misrepresented the borrower's assets, supported by fake bank statements of verifications of deposit. The loan applications allegedly misrepresented the identity of the mortgage broker or contained forged signatures for the borrower or other names involved in the loan application process.

The gross funds that were allegedly fraudulent obtained in 14 transactions is in excess of $3 million, and the net amount of funds laundered through the Sferrazza family is allegedly in excess of $900,000.

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