Former Port Vue man convicted in area's largest mortgage fraud

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A Delray Beach, Fla., mortgage broker who used false appraisals to back mortgage applications for properties, including some in the Pittsburgh area, was found guilty of mortgage fraud conspiracy by a federal jury in the U.S. Courthouse, Downtown, today.

Lewis Whoolery, 44, formerly of Port Vue, ran First Capital Home Equity, according to U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton's office. He used unlicensed appraiser Kenneth Cowden to prepare more than $67 million in fraudulent appraisals, overstating the value of properties to justify larger loans, the prosecution argued.

The firm also overstated borrowers' income, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway told the jury.

"In total, the government estimates that the fraudulent submissions related to this scheme led to the funding of more than $100 million in fraudulent loans, making this case the largest mortgage fraud case ever to go to trial in the Western District of Pennsylvania," Mr. Hickton's office said in a press release.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti oversaw the trial and scheduled sentencing for May 24.

Western Pennsylvania's Mortgage Fraud Task Force conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution.

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Rich Lord:, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord.


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