FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2017
Jury Convicts Former Banker and Mortgage Broker of Defrauding California Bank
HOUSTON – A federal jury has handed down convictions against two Houston-area defendants on multiple counts to include conspiracy, bank fraud, false statements on credit applications, wire fraud and mail fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The jury deliberated for approximately seven hours before convicting Carlos Wydler, 45, and Leyla Wydler, 57, both of Houston,late yesterday in a trial that spanned four weeks.
Leyla Wydler was the owner of several Houston-area businesses including Globan Mortgage Company, Casa Milagro and First Milagro. In the spring 2007, Carlos Wydler went to work at a California bank as a vice-president in charge of the bank’s credit card department. Shortly thereafter, the Wydlers developed a scheme in which Leyla Wydler would send credit card applications to the bank for Carlos Wydler to approve. He approved the applications for high credit lines and then, calling them “balance transfers,” cash advanced the entire credit line to the borrower via wire or check with Leyla Wydler taking a fee from the borrowers’ loan proceeds.
During trial, the evidence demonstrated that the Wydlers were also developing a real estate project in Houston at the time and used the “balance transfer” program to finance investors in their project. The jury heard that the bank did not know or approve of the fee-sharing or real estate financing arrangements.
For approximately a year, hundreds of loan applications were faxed or emailed from Leyla Wydler’s business in Houston to Carlos Wydler at the bank in California. Many of these contained falsified income information and falsified supporting documents about borrowers’ employment, income and assets. Two eyewitnesses testified they saw Leyla Wydler routinely insert falsified income numbers, sometimes using white-out, on loan applications.
Leyla Wydler skimmed more than $1.4 million from loan proceeds, with Carlos Wydler approving approximately $600,000 more in unauthorized loans to family members. More than half of the Texas borrowers run through the Wydler-family business in Houston defaulted on their loans. The bank sustained a loss of more than $8 million.
The defense attempted to convince the jury that Carlos Wydler followed bank policy in his approval decisions. Leyla Wydler’s attorney argued that she did not know that the information she was sending contained falsified information.
The jury did not believe their claims and ultimately convicted both defendants of conspiracy, bank fraud, false statements on credit applications, wire fraud and mail fraud. Carlos Wydler was also found guilty on six counts of misapplication of bank funds.
Both face up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million maximum fine on each count of conviction. U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon presided over the trial and has set sentencing for June 23, 2017. The Wydlers were taken into custody immediately after the verdict yesterday where they will remain pending that hearing.
The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Belinda Beek and John Lewis are prosecuting the case.