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Casey Christie / The Californian

FBI agents escort Jayson Peter Costa from federal U.S. Bankruptcy Court on 18th Street in Bakersfield after his arraignment in January 2011.

A defendant in the Crisp & Cole federal mortgage fraud case was sentenced Monday to 6 1/2 years in prison for one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud.

Jayson Peter Costa, a 41-year-old Bakersfield resident, had admitted in a plea agreement he was not properly licensed to do the loan processing work he performed at Tower Lending, the Bakersfield mortgage brokerage central to the 15-defendant fraud case.

In the plea deal, Costa also acknowledged giving lenders false and fraudulent loan applications filed on behalf of co-conspirators. He further admitted to being one of the company's "straw buyers," meaning he took out loans to buy homes at inflated prices in order to sell them again and extract their artificially inflated equity.

Costa admitted to causing lenders losses of at least $7.5 million between 2004 and 2007. He is scheduled to turn himself in May 5.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release Monday that Costa's employers -- David Crisp and Carl Cole -- and others helped conceal from California Department of Real Estate investigators that Costa was performing work at Tower he was not licensed to do. The group falsified paperwork to make it appear that Cole, a licensed broker, had acted as the loan officer on various loans instead of Costa.

Cole was sentenced last month to 17 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. Crisp, who has pleaded guilty to the same crime as Cole, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.

Other sentencings in the case are scheduled to take place later this spring.

A trial is expected to begin April 8 for Crisp's and Cole's former operations manager, Julie Dianne Farmer, the only defendant in the case without a plea deal. She maintains she did not know the work she did for them was against the law.