Scammers enter surprise pleas

Paradise couple admit guilt in mortgage-fraud case

Two of the principle defendants in the mortgage-fraud case that authorities say artificially inflated the Chico real-estate market and defrauded lending institutions of millions of dollars pleaded guilty in federal court last week to charges related to the scheme.

Garrett Griffith Gililland III (pictured), an unlicensed mortgage broker from Paradise, entered guilty pleas for mail fraud and money laundering, while his wife, Nicole Magpusao, pleaded guilty to mail fraud as well as acting as a “straw buyer” in the scam that prosecutors allege defrauded lending companies to the tune of $21 million, reported The Sacramento Bee.

As chronicled in the July 1, 2010, CN&R cover story, “Web of Deception,” this is the case involving local builder Tony Symmes, who is accused of giving $2.5 million in kickbacks to Gililland, who supplied the straw buyers to purchase his overpriced inventory of housing.

Gililland’s surprise plea bargain reportedly could cut his prison sentence significantly.