David Alan Hawkins, 68, of Bellevue, Washington and Harry Skeins Jr., 72, an attorney from San Antonio, Texas, were sentenced Friday, April 25 in U.S. District Court in Seattle for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, and two counts of Wire Fraud. Both men were sentenced to 48 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $1.56 million in restitution.
The men were convicted December 14, 2007, following a two week trial. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez said it was a very serious crime. “You cannot go stealing millions of dollars from a mortgage company and think no consequences will follow.”
According to testimony at trial and records filed in the case, Hawkins and Skeins executed a scheme to take out loans on properties they did not own. Hawkins, following two decades of fruitless litigation dating back to the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980’s, filed phony liens on the homes of others, including liens against the homes of a retired appeals court judge and a retired bank executive. Hawkins and Skeins then invented a phony title insurance company to convince an Atlanta based lender that the liens were valid and that Hawkins owned the properties.
Using a straw buyer who pretended to be purchasing these properties, the men convinced the mortgage lender to wire $1.5 million to bank accounts associated with the scheme. Records in the case indicate Hawkins and Skeins planned to use a similar scheme to obtain more funds based on phony liens on another eight properties belonging to retired judges, lawyers, bank executives and prosecutors. The scheme was disclosed when one of the property owners confronted an appraiser who was on their property and informed them that Hawkins had no legal interest in the property. The appraiser then called law enforcement with a concern he had been involved in something illegal.