The fifth and final defendant in a multimillion dollar mortgage scam in an upscale Provo neighborhood entered a guilty plea to reduced charges in U.S. District Court.
Ron K. Clarke, a Provo real estate agent, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud Thursday. In return, federal prosecutors agreed to drop 18 other counts in an indictment. Clarke faces up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors recommended Judge Ted Stewart impose a lesser sentence.
Clarke and four other people Bradley Grant Kitchen, David R. Bolick, Steven Wells Cloward and Jeffery David Garrett conspired to obtain fraudulent loans on homes in the Provo Riverbottoms for which they grossly inflated market values with false appraisals. Proceeds from the loans secured with the good credit of straw buyers totaling at least $18 million were divided among the participants.
In a sworn statement, Clarke said that at Kitchen's urging he entered home prices into the real estate industry's Multiple Listing Service at more than $1 million above their fair market value.
Clarke said he stopped working with Kitchen after he was asked to enter four homes into the MLS at $4 million each.
"I refused to do so, which caused Kitchen to become extremely angry and make threats against me. From that point on, I had nothing to do with Kitchen," Clarke said.
The five men are scheduled to be sentenced in December. They might have to collectively pay as much as $7 million in restitution.The indictment was the first product of the Utah Mortgage Fraud Task Force, a federal, state and local enforcement network formed a year ago.