Southern California breaking news and trends

Feds finger 'Floyd Fairness Fund' as focus of fraud investigation

Floyd Landis

AP/Alessandro Trovati

Phonak cycling team member Floyd Landis of the US throws away a bottle after refreshing himself, as he rides up the Joux-Plane pass during the 17th stage of the 93rd Tour de France cycling race on July 20, 2006.

Former Tour de France cyclist Floyd Landis is being investigated for potentially fraudulent activities related to a legal defense fund he set up to fight doping charges after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2006.

U-T San Diego first reported late Thursday that Landis confirmed he'd received a "target letter" from the U.S. Attorney's Office informing him of the federal probe -- a separate issue from the grand jury investigation into Lance Armstrong (Landis’ former teammate) and the U.S. Postal Service team, which was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and terminated without indictments in February.

Stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title following positive drug test results, Landis began raising money through the Floyd Fairness Fund -- bringing in approximately $1 million, according to ESPN -- in an effort to fight the charges and repair his reputation. 

Read More...

9 arrested in mortgage loan scheme to defraud banks out of $2.3 million

LASD

Jesus Vega Jr.

This time it was the borrowers ripping off the banks.

Sheriff’s officials announced today they have arrested nine people, most of them Los Angeles County residents, on charges stemming from an alleged mortgage loan scheme that defrauded two banks -- CitiMortgage and MetLife -- out of a total of $2.3 million.

According to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office, Gerard Bueno, 35, of La Habra Heights and Jesus Vega Jr., 28, of Hacienda Heights used front companies to buy six residential properties in the county. “They then obtained loans against the properties in the names of straw buyers, two of which were identity theft victims, and in effect ‘sold’ the properties to themselves at inflated prices that they themselves set,” authorities said.

The alleged fraud occurred between October 2007 and June 2009. All six of the properties later went into default, authorities said.

Read More...