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Oldsmar man sentenced to prison for mortgage fraud in Tampa townhouse project

TAMPA — An Oldsmar businessman has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for mortgage fraud conspiracy.

Richard Cartagena, 44, who pleaded guilty in March, faced up to three years in prison for his role in the conspiracy that involved La Encantada Villas, a project with seven townhouses in historic Hyde Park.

Cartagena "attempted to correct his mistakes by being completely forthcoming with law enforcement" and helped authorities investigate others, according to a motion requesting a more lenient sentence.

Cartagena was managing member of La Encantada Villas LLC. From May 2007 through July 2008, he conspired with others to commit fraud in transactions involving at least four of the townhouses on Watrous Avenue, according to a plea agreement. He made more than $1 million, records show.

The townhomes were sold at prices from $600,000 to $900,000 and have since been foreclosed on, according to the U.S. Attorney. Misrepresentations and fraud with two of Cartagena's former homes in Oldsmar and Clearwater also were part of the conspiracy.

On March 5, U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday sentenced Neil Ferrigno of Tampa, the minority partner in the development, to eight months in prison for conspiring to commit mortgage fraud. Two purchasers of townhomes were also sentenced.

The court ordered Cartagena and other defendants to pay $2.5 million in restitution to lenders.

Cartagena, who has lived in Tampa Bay for more than 20 years, founded the Palm Harbor telecommunications firm Nexxtworks Inc. He is also a business partner in the USA Flea Market in New Port Richey and served on the board of Tampa Bay Harvest, a nonprofit that gathers and distributes food to the needy.

Oldsmar man sentenced to prison for mortgage fraud in Tampa townhouse project 06/05/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 12:41am]

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