Hollister bishop admits to foreclosure fraud

A San Juan Bautista man and Hollister church bishop has pleaded guilty to felony foreclosure fraud in connection with his work as a foreclosure consultant in 2005 and 2006 and the cases of three families who lost their homes, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

Wesley Fort, 56, recently pleaded guilty to felony foreclosure fraud. He admitted to bilking homeowners in San Jose and Milpitas out of more than $650,000 while obtaining the titles to their properties. At the time, he was a bishop at the Newlife Family Worship Center Church of God in Christ International in Hollister.

Fort’s sentence hearing is set for Nov. 16 and he will receive a penalty of no more than two years and eight months in jail, subject to the restitution amount paid by the time of sentencing, along with three years of probation, according to a statement.

According to the district attorney’s announcement, Fort was a foreclosure consultant and promised the three families he could save their homes, convincing them to transfer titles to him to stop the foreclosure process.

“He promised that he would give back the properties to the victims when they were ready to resume ownership,” according to the statement.

They continued making monthly payments to Fort, in one case more than the family’s mortgage payment. Then he either stripped equity through “cash out refinancings” or sold properties at a profit to himself, according to the D.A.

The three properties lapsed into foreclosure again and the families lost their homes.

California law forbids foreclosure consultants to acquire interest in residences in foreclosure from homeowners who had contracted with them.

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