Former Bend lender facing prison

Mortgage broker pleads guilty to fraud, admits falsifying loan documents

By Sheila G. Miller / The Bulletin

A former Bend mortgage broker has pleaded guilty to committing fraud, admitting he falsified loan documents and padded borrowers’ bank accounts, ultimately causing banks to lose between $2.5 million and $7 million.

Peter Wilkinson, 43, owned and operated Deschutes Mortgage Group in Bend. According to a federal case filed against him in August 2011, Wilkinson prepared false loan applications, making various claims so that borrowers could get financing to buy real estate. Wilkinson’s attorney Robert Rainwater did not return calls Wednesday for comment.

The maximum sentence for the crimes is 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines. Wilkinson is set for sentencing at 10 a.m. Jan. 29 in Eugene by U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken.

The original August 2011 indictment pointed to just one incident, in 2006, in which Wilkinson allegedly helped Bend resident Amy Ridley obtain loans for a rental property on Northeast Ninth Street.

At the time, the indictment states, Ridley was studying to be a real estate agent and working irregularly. The indictment states the pair provided false information to GreenPoint Mortgage Funding to get two mortgages for the property, telling the company she worked for Rent-A-Husband and earned $13,000 each month, and that her bank accounts had more than $15,000 in them.

Wilkinson bought two cashier’s checks, one for $10,000 and one for $5,000, for Ridley for her to deposit, inflating her bank accounts.

After they’d provided the verification of deposit to GreenPoint, the indictment states, Ridley repaid Wilkinson $10,000.

Using that verification of deposit and the fraudulent home loan applications, GreenPoint provided mortgages of about $221,000 and $27,000 to Ridley.

“Ridley was unable to pay her mortgages, and the home was foreclosed upon,” the indictment states.

The pair was charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to court records, Ridley is due to go to trial Nov. 27 in Eugene.

This month, the scope of the charges against Wilkinson widened.

In court documents filed Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Bradford alleged that between October 2005 and June 2007, Wilkinson and others conspired to commit loan application fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud.

He “knowingly prepared and submitted fraudulent home loan applications and other false documents to lending institutions” by inflating monthly incomes and leaving out liabilities on the applications, claiming the financing was for a primary residence, using “straw buyers” to get financing, and, as in the Ridley case, depositing money into borrowers’ accounts to temporarily inflate them.

Banks and lending institutions would then approve loans for the borrowers.

The documents list 26 occasions on which Wilkinson falsified information for borrowers between November 2005 and June 2007.

In total, Wilkinson helped borrowers obtain more than $9 million in financing through false loan applications during that time. He also inflated borrowers’ bank accounts with more than $500,000 over the nearly two-year period.

Then, the U.S. Attorney’s Office states, Wilkinson tried to commit bank fraud in late 2007, filing a false home loan application to M&T Bank for a $270,000 line of credit on his home at Jack Lake Court in Bend. Wilkinson couldn’t repay it and M&T Bank suffered “a total loss.”