Housing scammer sentenced

Man convicted in Chico-related mortgage fraud sentenced

A Sacramento man who was part of a mortgage fraud scheme based partly in Chico was sentenced Monday (Jan. 26) to seven years and three months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and two counts of money laundering, according to a press release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

Leonard E. Williams, 52, owned Diamond Hill Financial and Bay Area Real Estate Holdings, which issued more than $2 million in home loans for which most buyers defaulted. The scam included the sale between 2006 and 2008 of 62 new houses built in Chico by Tony Symmes, who at the time was a well-respected and prolific home builder. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2012. Twelve others have been convicted in the scheme, including six from Chico and Paradise.