KENNEWICK – On May 25, a former mortgage loan officer was sentenced to nine months in jail and ordered to pay restitution of $13,500, plus costs for witness and attorney’s fees for stealing money and forging a promissory note.
At the request of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, the Financial Crimes Unit of the Attorney General’s Office charged Sathianne Lakkham with two counts of first-degree theft and three counts of forgery. Lakkham pled guilty to the thefts and one of the forgery counts. The other two forgery counts were dismissed in light of the defendant’s guilty plea and agreement to pay restitution.
According to charging papers filed in Benton County Superior Court, Lakkham, 38, was an independent contractor with Country Home Finance for approximately 18 months. During this time, he assisted a married couple with refinancing their home mortgage.
Lakkham manipulated the couple into borrowing additional funds to invest in a scheme he created. Because they trusted him, Lakkham was able to gain control of a total of $16,000 of the couple’s funds using two different schemes. In one scheme, he created fictitious promissory notes using false or forged names to steal a total of $9,000 and in the other he represented that the transactions were “loans” to him personally to steal a total of $7,000. Lakkham kept the entire $16,000 for his personal use.
When the couple realized they had been deceived, they reported Lakkham’s activity to Country Home Finance. Lakkham then transferred his vehicle to the couple and they received $2,500 from the sale of the vehicle.
The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) was notified about the situation and an investigation ensued. Although the DFI has administrative authority to discipline loan officers and mortgage brokers, the department believed Lakkham’s conduct warranted criminal prosecution and referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution under the Mortgage Fraud Prosecution Fund which was established in 2003.
To date, the Financial Crimes Unit has prosecuted four cases statewide under the Mortgage Fraud Prosecution Fund. The prosecutions have yielded a total of $341,015.80 in restitution orders, more than $5,000 in fine assessments and 44 months of jail time.
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Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725, firstname.lastname@example.org