Three directors of the embattled Federal Mortgage Corp. pleaded guilty Friday to a total of 19 felony counts charging them with using their firm as a front to defraud lenders, borrowers and investors.
In separate court appearances, Federal Mortgage President Craig J. Harris; his twin, Jeffrey M. Harris, the firm's vice president; and firm Secretary/Treasurer Robert D. Baker entered guilty pleas to all charges filed against them last month.The men, all 29, will be sentenced June 2 on the charges, which stem from illegal activities alleged to have occurred between March 1987 and last month. The Utah County attorney's office filed the charges following an intensive four-month investigation.
All three defendants pleaded guilty to four charges each of racketeering, communications fraud, computer crime and credit card fraud. Craig J. Harris, Highland, also pleaded guilty to forgery and witness tampering, while Jeffrey M. Harris, also of Highland, pleaded guilty to forgery.
In addition, Craig J. Harris pleaded guilty to an additional count each of racketeering, computer crime, communications fraud and theft by deception filed against Federal Mortgage. All charges are second-degree felonies, except for the witness tampering charge against Craig J. Harris, which is a third-degree felony.
Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The Harris brothers and Baker, who now lives in Texas, are free on their own recognizance. They were referred Friday to Adult Probation and Parole to aid with pre-sentence reports.
According to the Utah County Attorney's office, Federal Mortgage was run as a "highly sophisticated conspiracy" to defraud lending institutions, borrowers and investors. The operation turned into a pyramid scheme in which new loans were used to pay off old construction projects.
The charges also allege that several houses under construction by Federal Mortgage in the Provo Riverbottoms area of northeast Provo re-ceived several thousand dollars in construction loans made to fictitious borrowers.