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Kent mortgage firm owner pleads guilty to fraud

The owner of a Kent-based mortgage company pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a mortgage-fraud scheme.

Jet City Mortgage owner Ha Duyen Thi Le, also known as Holly Le, faces up to 20 years in prison, fines of up to twice the laundered amount of $230,000, and three years of supervised release. Sentencing takes place July 6.

Federal agents initially searched the offices of Jet City Mortgage last year, in connection with numerous Western Washington homes where indoor marijuana-growing operations were discovered, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office media release.

That raid was part of “Operation Green Reaper,” a crackdown on indoor marijuana-growing operations in the Puget Sound area by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS and numerous regional police narcotics teams.

According to charging papers, Le, working out of the Kent mortgage company office, conspired with others to falsify loan documents, allowing dozens of unqualified buyers to obtain mortgages and purchase one or more homes, according to charging papers.

When officers began investigating garden-supply stores that were providing equipment and advice to marijuana-manufacturing rings, they discovered that many of the homes busted for marijuana operations had been purchased using the services of Jet City Mortgage.

In her plea agreement, Le admitted she falsified income and asset information, as well as documents purporting to verify that information, for borrowers seeking mortgages. Le also conspired with the owners of three small businesses to provide false information to lenders who were attempting to verify the information in loan documents, according to prosecutors.

The co-conspirators were paid a small fee each time they lied to the mortgage lenders. Jet City Mortgage collected fees and premiums both in the role of a mortgage broker and through a family member’s work as a realtor. Financial records show Jet City Mortgage earned more than $230,000 from the scheme.

Kent Police are part of the Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team that joined federal agents in a two-year investigation of local marijuana grows. Police from Auburn, Renton, Tukwila and the Port of Seattle also are part of that team.

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