This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A Utah man pleaded guilty Thursday in West Virginia federal court to criminal charges in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme.
Michael S. Hurd, 37, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud involving properties in Hurricane, W.Va. Hurd also pleaded guilty to mail fraud stemming from dealings in Modesto, Calif.
Hurd operated a company called "The Gift Program" in the early and mid-2000s that he claimed did deals in which sellers paid down payments and initial mortgage payments on real estate. But he admitted that he instead used it to defraud lenders by obtaining inflated appraisals and not informing them that part of the loan was going to down payments and initial mortgage payments.
Hurd also admitted that Raymond Morris in Salt Lake City was part of the scheme, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charleston, W.V., said in a news release.
Morris allegedly found investors to purchase properties at fraudulently inflated prices and Hurd then used The Gift Program to fund the transaction. Investors eventually defaulted on the loans, costing the lender $2 million.
Morris has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges, and a trial is set for Feb. 28.
Hurd also admitted he illegally flipped 20 properties in Modesto with losses in excess of $5.5 million. He faces up to 60 years in prison and a $2 million fine when he is sentenced on Feb. 29.