(Source: LA Times)

Two dozen people have been charged with racketeering in a fraudulent mortgage scheme allegedly run by a street gang member, according to an indictment unsealed in San Diego federal court today.

The group allegedly profited from loans arranged for amounts in excess of the price of the housing, among other tactics. The homes quickly went into foreclosure, according to the indictment.

The alleged mastermind was Darnell Bell, 38, a member of the Lincoln Park street gang long known to law enforcement for violence and drug sales. Bell, already serving a jail sentence for distribution of cocaine, was arraigned in federal court today on a racketeering indictment.

From 2005 to 2008, the scheme involved the sale of 220 homes and mortgages worth more than $100 million issued by 70 lenders, U.S. Atty. Karen Hewitt said at a news conference.

Keith Slotter, FBI special agent in charge of the San Diego office, said the case showed that street-gang members had gone “from dealing dope on the street … to delving into this much more sophisticated crime.”

Read Tony Perry’s full article “Twenty-four indicted in San Diego in real estate fraud” in the Los Angeles Times (April 7, 2009).

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