Six real estate figures from Weber and Davis counties have been charged with felonies alleging fraud in the sales of homes along the Wasatch Front.
The defendants conspired in tacking on bogus fees to transactions involving 13 homes from 2007 to 2010, according to the allegations.
"Defendants deceived and defrauded lenders, sellers and buyers who believed fraudulent, fictitious or invalid fees, costs and liens associated with the subject properties had to be cleared in order for the sale to close," read the charging documents.
Charged with multiple counts of second- and third-degree felony communications fraud and engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony, were Karl Robert Hartley, 45, of Ogden; Sonia Zisumbo, 41, of Roy; Marilyn Ivory Lira, 28, of Ogden; Robin L. Moran, 49, of Kaysville; and Melissa Jean Thurgood, 35, of Farr West.
Hartley, Zisumbo and Lira are real estate agents; Moran and Thurgood are escrow officers.
John Carroll Hammans, 38, is charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit communications fraud, a third-degree felony, and is named as a defendant with the other five in the same 41-page probable cause affidavit filed by the Utah Real Estate Division. He is listed as a real estate investor from Clinton.
The charges were filed by the Utah Attorney General's Office on April 15 in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City because the homes involved are spread from Ogden to Highland in Utah County.
The bogus fees charged were typically in the range of several thousand dollars, such as $1,200 in legal fees to lawyers who were never hired, according to the allegations, or $1,000 checks written to cement contractors that ended up in a defendant's bank account.
In at least one transaction, the final sales figure may have been inflated by $20,000, according to charging documents, and numerous sales included tax liens for $1,000 or more when the taxes had previously been paid on the residences.
Booking status of all the defendants is unclear from court records except for Hammans and Moran, who have been booked and released from Weber County Jail.
To date, Hartley has yet to appear in court, his charges pending before 3rd District Judge Robin Reese, while Zisumbo has been arraigned and has hired as her defense attorney retired federal judge Samuel Alba. Zisumbo has a May 20 status conference before 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy.
Hammans has hired a lawyer and has a May 7 arraignment scheduled before 3rd District Judge James Blanch.
Lira's case is pending without date before Reese, Moran has a May 20 status conference before Blanch, and Thurgood has a May 20 date before Skanchy.