Why would Shirene Hernandez, a Fannie Mae real estate foreclosure specialist based In Irvine, reject separate valid offers of $390,000 and $333,000 for a foreclosed residential property in Sonoma but accept a below-market price of $329,000?
A Southern California federal grand jury believes Hernandez, a Corona resident, repeatedly took bribes from real estate broker Peter Michno to scam Fannie Mae operations.
The two-count indictment notes that Michno worked as a Fannie Mae-approved broker but wasn’t authorized to buy properties for himself, relatives or associates.
It also states the obvious: the broker wasn’t allowed to pay secret kickbacks to obtain listing opportunities or win below-market price bids.
Federal prosecutors inside the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Major Frauds Section in Los Angeles say the crimes—specifically, “conspiracy to commit wire fraud involving deprivation of honest services”—were committed between April 2011 and July 2013.
Michno, who was born in 1975, secretly negotiated the illegal deals in Oakland, Hayward, Livermore, Dublin and Sonoma.
If DOJ is right, he visited Irvine to negotiate the bribery amounts per transaction.
Officials announced Hernandez’s arraignment in January after accusing her of accepting more than $1 million in bribes, some of which were allegedly funneled by Michno.
He will declare his answer to the charges at a future hearing inside Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
Fannie Mae (or the Federal National Mortgage Association) is a federal government-sponsored business that reported $110 billion in 2017 revenues and more than $3.35 trillion in assets.
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.