SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Two Northern California business partners were sentenced to federal prison Friday for their roles in a multimillion dollar mortgage fraud scheme that inflated the prices of dozens of new homes and triggered an international manhunt.
Garret Griffith Gililland III was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison and Shane Burreson to nearly two years. Both men pleaded guilty last year to mail fraud and money laundering.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Sacramento said Gililland orchestrated the scheme to inflate the sales prices of about 46 homes in Chico, about 90 miles north of Sacramento, between 2006 and 2008.
Homebuilders would pay the men $40,000 to $60,000 in kickback checks for each home. The men would then pay straw buyers $20,000 to $30,000 in kickback payments for purchasing each home.
The scheme defrauded mortgage lenders who financed the properties. Prosecutors said the men originated about $21 million in fraudulent loans, costing mortgage lenders more than $4 million.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner called the scheme "audacious in scope" and said in a statement that the men are thus paying a steep price for their conduct.
Gililland, 31, was charged in 2008, but fled to Spain with his wife and at least $250,000 in cash. His flight delayed the case until they could be found and extradited back to the U.S. in 2009.
He and Burreson, 39, received credit for cooperating with the investigation, though Gililland received a stiffer sentence for eluding arrest and his larger role in the fraud. Both men lived in the Chico area.