SAN FRANCISCO – Robert Jacobsen was sentenced today to 78 months in prison for wire fraud and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Alex G. Tse, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Christy Goldsmith Romero, and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Acting Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Maxine M. Chesney, U.S. District Judge.
Jacobsen, 70, of Kensington, Calif., pleaded guilty to the charges on July 19, 2017. According to his plea agreement, Jacobsen admitted he created a scheme to sell homes to unsuspecting buyers who did not know the homes had unpaid mortgages attached to them.
As part of the scheme, Jacobsen created a company called “American Brokers’ Conduit Corporation.” Jacobsen’s company was not related to an already-existing mortgage originator known as “American Brokers’ Conduit.” The previously-existing company had originated mortgages in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Jacobsen, through intermediaries, gained control of homes with mortgage liens that secured loans originated by the real “American Brokers’ Conduit.”
Then, Jacobsen used intermediaries to sue the phony “American Brokers’ Conduit Corporation” in court, claiming that the legitimate mortgage liens were invalid. As he controlled both the plaintiff and the defendant in these lawsuits, Jacobsen then instructed the attorneys for both sides to enter into stipulated judgments, signed by the courts, resolving the lawsuits by purporting to declare the mortgage liens invalid. In so doing, he omitted to tell the courts that neither he nor any other person involved in the lawsuits was a legitimate representative of either the real “American Brokers’ Conduit” or the then-current owners of the liens. Jacobsen filed those agreements with the relevant county recorder’s offices, to give the appearance to anyone conducting a title search that the liens had been declared invalid by a court, and then sold the homes to unsuspecting buyers without paying off the original loans on the homes.
Jacobsen kept the vast majority of the proceeds of these sales to himself, laundering the money through multiple bank accounts in the United States and in Belize, and buying property and a yacht with the money.
Jacobsen successfully completed his scheme by selling two homes, one in Danville, Calif., for $540,000, and the other in San Francisco, for $1.2 million. He also attempted the scheme on another home, in Monterey, Calif., which he attempted to sell for $3 million.
A grand jury indicted Jacobsen on November 5, 2015, charging him with thirteen counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Jacobsen pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of engaging in monetary transactions from specified unlawful activity. If Jacobsen complies with the plea agreement, the remaining counts will be dismissed.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Chesney sentenced Jacobsen to serve 3 years of supervised release. As part of the plea agreement, Jacobsen also agreed to the forfeiture of the yacht that he purchased with fraud proceeds. Judge Chesney scheduled a hearing on October 17, 2018, to determine the amount of restitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Kingsley, Gregg Lowder, and Meredith Osborn are prosecuting the case with assistance from Bridget Kilkenny and Beth Margen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI, IRS-CI, and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.