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Newport Man Charged in Bankruptcy Fraud Scheme

Thomas Powell is one of five defendants charged in a statewide bankruptcy fraud scheme in Alameda County.

(Photo credit Getty Images)
(Photo credit Getty Images)
A Newport Beach man was among a handful of people charged Tuesday in Alameda County in connection with a statewide bankruptcy fraud scheme, officials reported.

Thomas Powell, 33, of Newport Beach, was arrested Friday and charged with one count of conspiracy to offer a false or forged instrument and 12 counts of offering a false and forged document for recordation, according to the Alameda County district attorney's office.

According to prosecutors, the scheme targeted hundreds of distressed homeowners by promising to delay foreclosures and evictions in exchange for cash up-front and monthly fees. Between 2008-2010, investigators allege the defendants collected more than $5 million from hundreds of victims.

The defendants allegedly offered to delay trustees’ sales for their clients, but did not disclose that they accomplished the delay by recording backdated and forged deeds of trust.

The defendants are also accused of filing false bankruptcies and sending copies to the trustees responsible for the sale of clients’ properties, which resulted in delaying the sale of the home until the lender could get relief from the automatic stay caused by the bankruptcy filing.

Clients’ signatures were forged on the deeds of trust. A counterfeit notary stamp and forged notary signature were used to complete and record the deeds of trust.

Other defendants charged in the bankruptcy fraud scheme include:

  • Karl Robinson, 49, of Long Beach, – 1 count of Conspiracy to offer a false or forged instrument; 13 counts of offering a false and forged document for recordation
  • Michael Bachmeier, 44, of Lake Elsinore, – 1 count of Conspiracy to offer a false or forged instrument; 12 counts of offering a false and forged document for recordation
  • Yamen Elasadi, 34, of Irvine, – . 1 count of Conspiracy to offer a false or forged instrument; 12 counts of offering a false and forged document for recordation
  • Jahi Kokayi, 43, of Studio City, – 1 count of Conspiracy to offer a false or forged instrument; 3 counts of offering a false and forged document for recordation

Bachmeier, Elasadi and Powell were arrested on Friday, while Robinson was arrested Tuesday. Authorities said investigators are still working to locate Kokayi.

The bankruptcy fraud scheme dates back to 2008 when Robinson allegedly filed the initial bankrupcy in his own name.

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