Judge said Kistner’s crime deserved time, and he sentenced her to 5 1/2 years in prison.
The Hilliard couple pleaded guilty on January 18, 2013, four days after their trial started. Deborah Kistner pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, three counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of bank fraud. Mark Kistner pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Prior to the sentencing yesterday, pleas by two sons, a daughter and a father didn’t stop a federal judge yesterday from ordering Deborah L. Kistner to prison for the million mortgage fraud scheme that stretched from Ohio to Florida.
“My mother is the binding that holds us together,” said Alex Kistner, her older son, as he begged U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost to give his mother probation. He described her as honest and said she’s his “moral compass.”
Two hours earlier, Frost sentenced her husband, Mark A. Kistner to three years of probation after Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Fulton noted that his involvement had been minimal and he was “substantially less culpable than his wife.”
“Over five years, Kistner participated in an ongoing, multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud in which banks and lending institutions were defrauded out of several million dollars in mortgage loans,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Fulton told the court prior to sentencing. “Her role as a title agent mandated that she be a ‘gatekeeper’ for banks funding these mortgages, and she violated that position of trust.”
Deborah Kistner was a title agent and owner of Premiere Title in Hilliard when she and others arranged for investors to buy newly built central Ohio houses with inflated loans, promised them kickbacks and took kickbacks themselves between June 2006 and July 2010.
They also defrauded lenders with “short sale” property closings and with purchases of property in Florida, according to the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI, which investigated the fraud.
Frost ordered Mrs. Kistner to pay restitution of $9.4 million in conjunction with her 10 co-defendants; he ordered Mark Kistner to pay $381,765 of the $9.4 million, also in conjunction with co-conspirators. The restitution will go to nine lenders.
“Deborah Kistner is the only link between all the schemes,” Fulton said. “In each of these schemes, she was central. She knew well it was completely illegal.”
Mrs. Kistner said she “did what I thought was right” but now she knows “it was not.”
She could have been sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined $1 million on the bank-fraud counts and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the money-laundering charges.
The judge allowed Mrs. Kistner to report to prison on her own after Jan. 1.
Please remember fraud is not just a white-collar crime; it’s a people crime. People commit it, people suffer in its wake, people’s lives are ruined, people enforce it, and its people like you and I who can prevent it.
To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.