Carl Cole and his son Caleb Cole pleaded guilty as expected in federal court Thursday for their part in an alleged $30 million mortgage fraud ring in Bakersfield.
Carl Cole, 66, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud while Caleb Cole, 37, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorneys' Office.
That came on the heels of co-defendant Sneha Ramesh Mohammadi, 51, of Bakersfield pleading guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. They appeared before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill in Fresno.
Another alleged participant, Jayson Costa, is scheduled to appear at a change of plea hearing next Tuesday. He has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud as well.
"Today's guilty pleas come after years of careful, thorough investigation into the illegal activities of many in and around the Crisp, Cole & Associates real estate firm," U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a press release Thursday afternoon.
"The defendants falsely inflated real estate prices knowing that the foreclosures that followed would do harm to local builders, consumers and lenders.
"Crisp & Cole was emblematic of the recklessness and lawlessness in the mortgage industry in the mid-2000s that caused the financial crisis that led to so much devastation in the Central Valley of California. Since that crisis hit, this office has charged more than 350 people with crimes related to mortgage fraud schemes, and our work is not yet done."
Carl and Caleb Cole are scheduled to be sentenced by O'Neill Feb. 18, the Attorneys' Office said. Mohammadi is scheduled to be sentenced June 9.
Carl Cole and Mohammadi face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, the Attorneys' Office said. It said Caleb Cole faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The court has the final say, though, after looking at the law and federal sentencing guidelines.