NEVADA – Ex-real estate agent once again defending himself at trial
For the third time in three years, a former real estate agent is defending himself at trial in a mortgage fraud scheme federal prosecutors allege defrauded lending institutions out of more than $24 million.
Brett Depue’s first trial ended in a hung jury in February 2012, but he was convicted the following month on conspiracy and fraud charges and later sentenced to nearly 22 years in federal prison.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in March, concluding Depue did not fully understand his waiver of trial counsel.
But Depue, 41, was back defending himself again Monday, choosing not to make an opening statement to the jury.
In her opening remarks, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Griswold said Depue made $15 million in the scheme that recruited straw buyers and made use of his family and friends.
“This is a case about lies and greed,” Griswold told the jury, adding that evidence will show Depue on four occasions confessed to spearheading the scheme.
Griswold said 110 homes in the Las Vegas Valley were fraudulently bought during the scheme between 2005 and 2007.
More than a dozen people participated in the conspiracy, and nine co-defendants pleaded guilty in the FBI-led investigation, according to prosecutors.
At his June 2012 sentencing, Depue, who now lives in Gilbert, Ariz., showed no remorse and accused Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt, prosecutors and his own standby attorney at the time of conspiring to deny him a fair trial.
Depue told Hunt that he was the victim of a “travesty of justice” and that the government’s case against him was a “house of cards.”
Hunt said it was “impossible to calculate” the economic harm in Southern Nevada from Depue’s scheme. He said there were untold victims throughout the community, including Depue’s own family members. Read more: