Hat tip to W.C. Varones for sending in this article on Crisp and Cole, the two real estate agents in Bakersfield who were found guilty of defrauding banks out of nearly $30 million:


FRESNO — For their roles in a mortgage fraud case that rocked Bakersfield, David Crisp was sentenced Monday to 17 1/2 years in prison while his wife, Jennifer, received what the federal judge in the case called “the break of a lifetime”: five years probation.

David, 34, was immediately remanded to custody to begin serving what amounts to the same sentence given in February to his former business partner, Carl Cole, who like Crisp had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. Both former principals of Crisp & Cole Real Estate and Tower Lending were ordered to pay restitution of more than $28 million.

In a news release, federal prosecutors said David had finally “crashed hard” after flaunting his “ill-gotten wealth” and going around in exotic cars, Armani suits and a private jet.

“David Crisp lived in the fast lane, steering a real estate company that was all image and no substance,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner wrote.

As the housing bubble burst, Crisp & Cole’s projects fell through, home defaults mounted and lawsuits were filed. By September 2007 the IRS had slapped David and Jennifer Crisp with a $111,170 lien in back taxes and the FBI began investigating.  Within days, more than 75 federal agents swarmed over 13 properties related to the former Crisp & Cole company.

In his plea agreement, David Crisp admitted that he and his co-conspirators caused losses of at least $29.8 million to defrauded lenders.

The Crisps’ guilty pleas brought to 14 the number of defendants who have done so in the case.

As for the success he appeared to achieve as a young real estate mogul, Crisp told the judge, “It got to my head, your honor.”

His Fresno lawyer, Eric Kersten, portrayed Crisp as an inexperienced “kid” caught up in a booming market. Kersten tried to shift some of the blame to Cole and the bankers anxious to give out loans during the real estate boom.

“Everybody was making money. It was like the wild West,” Kersten said.

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