A former employee of Fannie Mae in Irvine was found guilty of federal fraud charges related to bribes she took from brokers in exchange for discounted sales of Fannie Mae-owned properties and real estate listings, authorities said Thursday.
Shirene Hernandez, 46, of Corona, was found guilty Tuesday of two counts of wire fraud and ordered to forfeit the property she obtained as a result of her criminal conduct, according to Ciaran McEvoy, public information officer for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Hernandez was a sales representative for Fannie Mae, the government-controlled company that helps provide money for the U.S. housing market by buying residential mortgages and packaging pools of those loans for sale to investors.
From 2010 until 2015 she assigned federally owned properties to real estate brokers and approved sales of the homes based on offers the brokers submitted, often at discounted prices to herself and the brokers who paid her kickbacks, McEvoy said.
During that time, Hernandez received bribes, mostly in the form of cash payments totaling more than $1 million, and assigned listings to family members, who received nearly $2 million in commissions in less than three years, McEvoy said.
As part of the scheme, Hernandez purchased a Fannie Mae-owned property in Sonoma that she was responsible for selling. She rejected higher, market-priced offers in favor of her own below-market price.
The property was purchased by intermediaries, then transferred to her sister-in-law, who paid for the property with $286,450 in cash stuffed in a duffel bag — an amount far below market price for the property, McEvoy said. The property was rented out and Hernandez collected the rent. She was ordered to forfeit the property to the U.S. government.
Hernandez was scheduled to be sentenced on May 13 and faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each of the two felony counts.