Medinah real estate broker sentenced in fraud scheme

A Medinah real estate broker was sentenced Wednesday to 16 months in federal prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme involving a pair of Chicago apartment buildings.

George Dravilas, 37, pleaded guilty in February to one count of bank fraud. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman ordered Dravilas to pay $463,110 in restitution.

Dravilas must begin serving his sentence no later than Sept. 21.

He was arrested in May 2014 after a federal undercover investigation exposed a scheme to defraud Standard Bank through fraudulent mortgage loan transactions.

Dravilas admitted in his plea agreement that he knowingly provided false documents as part of mortgage loan applications to finance two residential properties in the name of straw buyers who Dravilas had arranged would receive a share of the seller's loan proceeds.

Prosecutors said after fraudulently helping to secure the financing, Dravilas schemed to sell both apartment buildings for the inflated sale price of $275,000 each, while agreeing to kick back $100,000 on each transaction to the undercover straw buyers, keeping a fee for himself in the process.

The properties were two-flat apartment buildings located in the 6300 block of South Parnell Avenue and the 6600 block of South Sangamon Street in Chicago. Dravilas acknowledged in his plea agreement that the fair market value of the buildings was $45,000 and $47,000, respectively, and that Standard Bank stood to lose a combined $458,000 from the scam.

Dravilas also acknowledged that he engaged in additional mortgage fraud schemes involving two additional real estate properties in Chicago.

"Mortgage fraud is a crime that affects more than the lenders that funded the loans," Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Boutros said in a written statement. "It has a cascading, domino effect on a variety of property owners, neighborhoods, communities and other constituents."

Dravilas' co-defendant, Bridget Hutcherson, 40, of Chicago, pleaded guilty in April to one count of bank fraud. She admitted in a plea declaration that she accepted $600 in December 2013 to supply a confidential informant with fraudulent W-2s, check stubs, and earnings statements in the names of the straw buyers. Hutcherson is scheduled to be sentenced by Feinerman at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2015.

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