SACRAMENTO — A Fairfield con artist real estate broker who bilked people and mortgage companies out of more than $2.1 million was sentenced Thursday to five years, three months in federal prison.
The sentencing included Alonzo J. Brown III telling Judge Morrison C. England Jr. about an epiphany on the eve of sentencing that could lop a year and a half off of Brown’s prison time.
Brown, 44, pleaded guilty in June to two felony wire fraud charges. He could have been sentenced to as long as 40 years in prison.
In one scheme, Brown defrauded financial institutions by buying five homes in Fairfield between 2005 and 2007. He then “flipped” the homes, reselling them to former customers and casual acquaintances who had no idea they had become “straw man” homeowners.
Brown forged and falsified income and asset information for the buyers that he gave the lending institutions. Brown would make the monthly mortgage payments just long enough for the banks and mortgage companies to pay off the proceeds of the sales. Brown pocketed nearly $360,000 while the mortgage companies lost more than $1.5 million when the homes went into foreclosure.
In a second scheme, Brown convinced a Canadian woman in 2008 that his investment wizardry could make her millions of dollars in just eight weeks. She wired him nearly $1 million and soon she was reaping weekly dividends that added up to $364,000. The dividends stopped coming after two months and Brown broke off all communication with the woman, who was out more than $635,000.
Brown’s epiphany came during a long talk Wednesday with his lawyer. In past court appearances, Brown has adamantly denied having a drinking problem. That changed Thursday, with Brown telling England his alcoholism led him to make bad judgments. Brown tearfully said his alcohol problem was caused by the stress of being a single father and his grandmother’s death.
England ordered Brown to participate in a prison alcoholism treatment program. Completing the program is rewarded with a one-year reduction in prison time and getting six month’s time in a halfway house instead of a prison cell.
Brown has been out of jail on bail.
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