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Hillsborough mortgage broker gets 15 months in condo scam

A scheme involving a Temple Terrace condominium complex cost banks more than $5 million.

TAMPA — A former Hillsborough County mortgage broker has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for his role in a scam through which banks lost more than $5 million.

Jonathan Marmol, 41, of Odessa and Miami Beach developer Mordechai Boaziz pleaded guilty last November to making false statements to financial institutions on mortgage loan applications.

Boaziz had purchased the Preserve at Temple Terrace, a 392-unit complex near Lettuce Lake Park on Fletcher Avenue, and was converting its apartments to condominiums. He hired Marmol to market the condos, some selling in the low $200,000s, according to court records.

Related: Two plead guilty in Temple Terrace condo conversion scam

Starting in 2006, Marmol, Boaziz and others offered to pay the down payments for the purchasers. Meanwhile, they told lenders such as Wells Fargo and Wachovia Mortgage the down payments came from the buyers. That made the applicants appear to be better credit risks than they were.

The banks lost money when the mortgages failed as the collapse of the subprime mortgage market burst the housing bubble and triggered the Great Recession.

In a written statement to the court, Marmol said he accepted responsibility for what he had done but asked to avoid a prison sentence so he could pursue a second career as a mental health counselor.

“Twelve years ago, I made a series of bad actions and decisions that harmed people close to me, myself and the community at large,” he said in the statement. “I am deeply regretful of the harm and damage I caused.”

Marmol said he became a mortgage broker in 2001, but lapsed into alcohol and drug abuse following a failed attempt to secure the legal right to see his young daughter. During his work as a mortgage broker, he said he “encouraged family members to participate in what I later realized was an all-out fraudulent scheme."

Leaving Florida, he said he was homeless for five years, with multiple hospitalizations for drug abuse, before he got sober, completed a substance abuse program and then began volunteering to help others.

This year, he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a certificate of addiction counseling from the University of South Florida, where, according to university emails submitted to the court, Marmol made the dean’s list.

That, he said, plus six years of sobriety and service doing volunteer counseling, has prepared him for “a more predictable professional setting” not driven by money but by “values such as integrity and service.”

In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington last week sentenced Marmol to 36 months of supervised release and ordered him to pay $317,304 in restitution.

Boaziz, 67, was sentenced to 90 days in prison, 36 months of supervised release and was ordered to pay more than $5.36 million in restitution.