Five plead guilty to elaborate Upstate mortgage fraud scheme

An Upstate home builder and five other people pleaded guilty in Federal court Thursday for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme that involved false loan applications, kickbacks, and duping investors.   Forty-three-year old twin brothers Anthony and Antonio Grant of Simpsonville and their business partner 73-year-old Michael Holmes of Lawrenceville, Georgia, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  Tower Homes, Inc. President Nathan Seppala and Vice-President Sandra Kinnunnen, both of Greer, also pled guilty for their roles in the scheme.
 The Grant brothers and Holmes’ falsified investors’ financial information on loan applications in order for the investors to qualify for higher mortgage loans, when in fact many did not. To further deceive lenders, the men gave each home buyer a check to cover closing costs and instructed each investor to present the funds at closing as if they were from the buyer’s personal account.
Based on the false applications and the deceptive closing funds, mortgage lenders approved 33 loans in amounts far in excess of what would have been loaned had accurate information been presented. Many of those loans are now delinquent and many of the homes are in foreclosure.
The Grant brothers and Holmes also entered into side contracts with Tower Homes which inflated the price of properties far in excess of their actual values. Tower Homes executives Seppala and Kinnunnen authorized kickback payments to the Grant brothers and Holmes.
The perpetrators of the scheme each face maximum sentences of 30 years in prison and a $41 million fine. The corporate defendant Tower Homes faces a possible maximum fine of $1 million.  The investigation of the case began when victim investors contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office in February 2009.