From Cage Potato:
A few new details to add to last night’s Chael Sonnen money laundering bombshell:
— I know, we were all drooling with schadenfreude when we heard that money laundering carries a max sentence of 20 years and a half-milly fine. But don’t start planning Chael’s going-away party just yet, folks. According to the Oregonian, the government will recommend that Sonnen be sentenced to just two years of probation at his sentencing in March; as part of his plea deal, Sonnen also agreed to forfeit his realtor’s license and pay a $10,000 fine. And why is Chael getting off so easily? The loud-mouthed UFC contender is expected to cooperate as a witness against others involved in the mortgage fraud investigation. In other words, he’s a rat in addition to being a lying scam-artist with malfunctioning testicles.
— Just as the money laundering story broke, MMA Junkie reported that Sonnen had been scheduled to face Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 128 (March 19, Newark), just 17 days after his CSAC suspension ends. We’d consider that booking “tentative” considering the legal heat that’s now dogging Sonnen. Sexyama’s Octagon record dropped to 1-2 following his decision loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 120, though all three of his UFC bouts have earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
After the jump, more on the specific charge that Sonnen pled guilty to…
From The Oregonian:
The charge against Sonnen stems from the June 2006 sale of a home at 11249 S.E. Rolling Hills Lane in Portland. The lender, Decision One Mortgage, agreed to send more than $69,000 of the loan proceeds to a company called Crown Plumbing, a company owned by Sonnen’s mother, for some repair work on the house.
The repair work was never done. Instead, the money went as a kickback to the straw buyer of the house.
Straw buyers were a common phenomenon during the housing boom. Mortgage scammers typically recruited individuals willing to serve as front-men and women and would secure a loan for a home with a falsified loan application. They would then use various means to skim money off the top of the transaction.
Sonnen was not alone in this transaction. Government prosecutors allege he cooperated with Joel Rosabal and Chadwick Amsden, two mortgage brokers with Lighthouse Financial Group, a now-defunct mortgage brokerage formerly based in Vancouver.
Rosabal and Amsden in May were indicted and charged with multiple counts of money laundering, mail fraud and other charges, in part for their role in the sale of the house on Southeast Rolling Hills Lane.
At least five people who worked with, or for, Lighthouse have been indicted on mortgage fraud charges.
And finally, some finger-wagging from assistant U.S. attorney Michelle Holman Kerin:
“This office will continue to aggressively prosecute real estate professionals who committed the mortgage fraud that contributed to this country’s economic downturn and wreaked havoc on our community’s housing market. We entrusted these professionals to honestly broker real estate transactions and instead, they defrauded lending institutions throughout the country and left financial ruin in their wake.”