Last mortgage scammer convicted

Last of 14 defendants convicted faces up to 20 years in prison

A federal jury has convicted the final remaining defendant in a mortgage fraud scheme that ran from 2006 to 2008 and was initially uncovered by the Butte County District Attorney’s Office.

Leonard E. Williams was the last of 14 defendants convicted in a scam that involved getting loans for new home purchases by using “straw buyers” and false information about employment, income, assets and intent to occupy the homes as a primary residence. The multimillion-dollar scam involved the illicit sale of 70 houses in Chico.

Others convicted and sentenced include Chicoans William E. Baker (18 months), Tony Symmes (35 months, plus $4 million in restitution), Niche Fortune (4 years, 9 months), along with scheme leader Garret Gililland of Paradise (7 years, 10 months), and Shane Burreson of Orland (23 months).

Williams faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 27.