Poland man sentenced in mortgage-fraud scheme

Staff report


A federal judge has placed a local defendant in a major mortgage-fraud case involving 48 Mahoning Valley houses on three years’ probation, with the first eight months under house arrest.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Gaughan also ordered William Helbley of Poland to perform 50 hours of community service and to contribute 10 percent of his gross monthly income toward $381,827 in restitution he and several other defendants are jointly responsible for.

Helbley had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in what federal prosecutors said was a complex investment scheme involving falsely-inflated appraisals and more than $7.5 million in mortgage loans.

Court papers show seven out-of-state victim companies suffered a combined loss of more than $1 million during the conspiracy, which operated between July 2003 and January 2006.

Last July, Judge Gaughan sentenced the reputed leader of the scheme, Romero Minor, of Macon, Ga., to 69 months in federal prison and ordered him to make $1.3 million in restitution, after he pleaded guilty to 48 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Minor pleaded guilty to one wire-fraud count for each of the Valley homes involved, most of which went into foreclosure.

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