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Ex-JPMorgan Chase banker admits taking bribes in mortgage auctions

A former JPMorgan Chase banker pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego Friday to taking bribes to influence mortgage sales.

Prosecutors said Lynda Sanabria, 51, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank bribery and tax evasion.

She could face up to five years in prison.

In her plea deal, Sanabria acknowledged taking $200,000 from San Diego businessman Israel Hechter and his associates to provide inside information about mortgages that Chase auctioned on the secondary market.

After Hechter won the bids, he pooled the mortgages and sold shares to investors.

Hechter pleaded guilty last month and admitted paying $1 million in bribes to Sanabria and others.

Sanabria began accepting bribes from Hechter and his associates in 2004. She used the first bribe of $70,000 to buy property near Lake Havasu, Arizona.

Hechter also gave Sanabria a fixed payment of about $300 for each loan he bid on and she made sure Hechter won the bids.

Hechter owned two mortgage investment firms — Ocean 18 LLC and Note Tracker Corp.

Three co-investors with Hechter — his father, Zeev Hechter, his brother, Amir Hechter, and his employee, Jack Prober — each pleaded guilty in September and are scheduled to be sentenced January 5.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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