Three fugitives arrested in massive multistate fraud scheme


Date: July 22, 2022


HOUSTON — Three more co-conspirators have been taken into custody on charges related to a multi-layered mortgage fraud, credit repair and government loan fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B Lowery.

Heather Ann Campos, David Lewis Best Jr. and Stephen Laverne Crabtree had evaded law enforcement for several months.

Campos, of Houston, is set for a detention hearing before U.S. Judge Dena H. Palermo today at 10 a.m. Best, Spring, and Crabtree, Herriman, Utah, remain in custody pending further criminal proceedings.

All three allegedly sent numerous sovereign citizen letters to federal agencies and the federal court in Houston declaring themselves immune from prosecution and refusing to recognize the authority of the federal courts.

Campos and Best were indicted in January on numerous charges for participating in a conspiracy to defraud mortgage lending businesses, banks, Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They indicated they would self-surrender but allegedly fled from law enforcement. Since that date, several other co-conspirators were indicted, including Crabtree. He was released on bond and also became a fugitive.

Those indicted include Steven Tetsuya Morizono, Mission Viejo, California; Albert Lugene Lim, Laguna Niguel, California; Melinda Moreno Munoz, Elvina Buckley, Leslie Edrington, and ShyAnne Edrington, all of Houston.

The charges allege Campos and Best recruited clients for credit repair using company names of KMD Credit, KMD Capital and Jeff Funding, among others. They allegedly "cleaned" their clients' credit histories by filing false identity theft reports with the FTC. After fraudulently inflating client credit worthiness, the co-conspirators fraudulently obtained credit cards, disaster loans and mortgages for themselves and their clients, according to the charges. They were allegedly able to accomplish this through false statements and fake documents.

Campos was a mortgage broker and Buckley a realtor, while operating as a notary was the responsibility of Munoz, according to the charges. After fraudulently inflating client credit worthiness, the individuals allegedly obtained rental properties to deceptively build a real estate portfolio worth millions of dollars in their clients' names and profit from rental income. The charges allege Crabtree was a credit repair client and recruited others, including his family members, and conspired to commit wire fraud.

In addition, they allegedly obtained loans from banks and the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and Paycheck Protection Program. They were created in the names of clients, friends and family members through false statements and fake or altered documents.

Using the alias Jeff, Morizono was the leader and namesake for the scheme purporting to do business as Jeff Funding, according to the charges.

If convicted, they all face up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million maximum fine.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General (OIG), U.S. Postal Inspection Service and SBA – OIG conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FTC – OIG and IRS – Criminal Investigation.

Other agencies assisted with the arrests of Campos, Best and Crabtree, to include The Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake; police departments in South Jordan, Riverton, and Herriman, Utah; FBI Hostage Rescue Team; U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City Divisions; and the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Suh and Jay Hileman are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.