2 metro Atlanta real estate agents plead guilty to mortgage fraud conspiracy

Eric Hill was sentenced to more than two years in prison. His co-defendant, Robert Kelske, will be sentenced in April.

Credit: File photo

Credit: File photo

Eric Hill was sentenced to more than two years in prison. His co-defendant, Robert Kelske, will be sentenced in April.

Two metro Atlanta real estate agents at the center of a yearslong mortgage fraud scheme that secured more than $21 million in bad loans pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

Eric Hill, 52, of Tyrone, was sentenced to 2½ years in prison followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Kurt Erskine said in a news release. Hill’s co-defendant, 54-year-old Robert Kelske of Smyrna, also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced April 14.

The two men were charged with coordinating the elaborate fraud scheme that resulted in indictments for 12 people, all of whom have been convicted.

Hill was responsible for more than $850,000 worth of claims paid out by the Federal Housing Administration thanks to defaults on fraudulent loans, Erskine said. He also defrauded his employer, a national homebuilder, out of more than $480,000.

According to Erskine, Hill and Kelske were both selling agents for the large homebuilder, which was not identified. Over the course of several years, they helped more than 100 unqualified homebuyers purchase homes using falsified documents and fraudulent records.

Hill and Kelske worked with document fabricators to change bank statements and create fake records of assets for potential homebuyers, Erskine said. Other defendants in the case would then take calls and emails from lenders and verify the homebuyers’ employment information, even though they did not work with the homebuyers.

Hill and Kelske also worked with two other real estate agents who pretended to represent the homebuyers, according to Erskine. Those two agents would collect the commission on the buyer’s side of the deal and send most of it back to Hill and Kelske. To avoid any suspicion, the buyers’ agents would often tell the closing attorneys that they could not physically attend the closing and would send wire instructions for their commission, Erskine said.

“Eric Hill and his co-conspirators defrauded mortgage loan holders out of millions of dollars, with taxpayers being saddled with much of the loss,” Erskine said.

“While it is easy to dismiss financial fraud cases as victimless crimes because of their lack of violence, there is, however, very real victimization to our economy and our taxpayers,” Special Agent of FBI Atlanta Chris Hacker said.