'Mastermind' found guilty of mortgage fraud scheme

Kessler Holzendorf

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The 43-year-old son of a prominent Jacksonville political family has been found guilty of conspiracy, multiple counts of mail fraud and multiple counts of wire fraud in connection with his involvement in a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme.

Kessler Holzendorf faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the 31 counts. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28.

Holzendorf is the son of Betty Holzendorf, who served 10 years in the Florida Senate and four years in the House of Representatives, and King Holzendorf Jr., who served one term in Jacksonville City Council.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Holzendorf was one of the masterminds behind a complex scheme to defraud a number of mortgage lenders on loans for high-end properties in the Jacksonville area, including a number of homes in the Bartram Springs subdivision.

The scheme involved Holzendorf and others recruiting real estate professionals as investors who, with Holzenorf's assistance, submitted false loan applications and inflated purchase prices for the sales. The loan applications included inflated sales prices, some false claims that investors were occupying the properties as their personal residences, and other false claims regarding the investors' employment status and income levels.

For each of the properties, lenders were tricked into believing that home improvements, usually noted as swimming pools, were being made to the properties. In fact, no improvements were ever made. Funds (ranging from $50,000 to $250,000) for these improvements were paid through title companies for sham invoices payable to a sham company (Home Improvements and Repair by Design), which was controlled by Holzendorf.

Following the closing, Holzendorf, who usually kept a fee, would return the monies to the buyers. As a result of the scheme, the lenders were tricked into providing substantial sums of money to the buyers at closing.

The scheme also included a real estate agent and a mortgage company affiliated with Holzendorf. Evidence introduced at trial showed that Holzendorf and other conspirators obtained real estate commissions of more than $339,000, mortgage broker compensation of more than $189,000, and illegal kickbacks to buyers of more than $1.1 million.

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