Richard Woods, age 54, of Nanticoke, Pa. was sentenced Dec. 8 to spend 20 months in federal prison by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

He had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of mail fraud.

Following an FBI investigation, Woods was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2007. He had participated in a plot whereby operators and employees of First Advantage Mortgage Co., which was based in Lake Ariel and later Hamlin, Pa. and Four Star Mortgage Co., Gouldsboro, Pa., used false appraisals and false documents, including false W-2 forms, false real estate appraisals, and false employment records, to qualify customers for inflated mortgages and loans from 1999 through 2005.

Some of the customers subsequently defaulted on the mortgages and loans resulting in losses to banks and other financial institutions. The amount of money involved in the fraudulent scheme was between $1 million and $2.5 million, and involved between 10 and 50 victims. Woods admitted that he prepared numerous false real estate appraisals to qualify borrowers for inflated mortgages.

He is the third defendant connected to the crime to be sentenced in federal court.

Alex Gambini, the former owner/operator of First Advantage Mortgage Co., was previously sentenced to 57 months in prison. Benjamin Haughney, who was a mortgage broker for First Advantage Mortgage Co. and the owner/operator of Four Star Mortgage Co., was sentenced to two years in prison.

Judge Kosik also ordered Woods to serve three years on supervised release following his prison sentence, and to pay a $100 special assessment. The court deferred ruling on restitution in the matter for 90 days. In his plea agreement, Woods agreed to pay restitution for losses resulting from his conduct.

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