Judge sentences Ramona man to 60 days in federal prison in loan scheme

By Neal Putnam

The only Ramona resident who was among 24 people indicted in 2009 in a mortgage fraud scheme has been sentenced to 60 days in federal prison followed by four months in a halfway house.

U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff allowed Keith Earl Holiday, 53, to remain free on $100,000 bond by until he surrenders on Nov. 4.

Holiday pleaded guilty to making a false statement in a home loan application to a bank, a felony offense. He was alleged to have acted as a straw buyer for three properties he purchased, but all three went into foreclosure when he couldn’t keep up the payments.

His attorney, David Bartick, said Holiday “bought the homes with a good faith effort” and hoped he could get income from it after he retired from renting them out. He asked for probation, but Huff denied probation in the Sept. 20 sentencing.

Bartick told the judge Holiday was “quite different” than any of the other co-defendants, saying “he thought he was doing it legitimately.” Bartick said Holiday was unaware that others were getting kickbacks in the scheme.

Bartick said Holiday “lost everything,” including a 33-year job at a supermarket and all of his savings.

“Mr. Holiday will be paying for his unlawful conduct for the rest of his life,” Bartick told Huff.

Bartick told Huff that Holiday’s nephew, Dexter Holiday, 38, approached Huff to act as a buyer for the properties. Dexter Holiday worked for the ringleader, Darnell Bell, 40, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to participating in racketeering activity involving bank fraud, money laundering, and wire fraud.

Dexter Holiday pleaded guilty to conspiracy in racketeering activity and was sentenced by Huff to 15 months in prison in 2010. Dexter Holiday will be paroled Oct. 15, according the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Keith Holiday’s plea agreement says he overstated his monthly income on a loan application and falsely claimed he would live at a Lakeside house he was buying.

“He lied to three banks to get money to buy three properties,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Huie.

A restitution hearing will be heard by a different judge because Huff said there was a perceived legal conflict on her part because her husband’s law firm once represented Bank of America. That bank is seeking money from Keith Holiday, and Huff said she won’t handle any restitution part.

The lowest sentence so far imposed of people in the scheme is 30 days. Bell is facing 20 years.

   
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