A Santa Rosa man who ran a mortgage elimination scheme that preyed on struggling homeowners in Sonoma and Marin counties faces more than a dozen years in jail when he is sentenced next month, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Ronald Cupp, 59, was convicted of 15 felonies, including forgery and falsifying documents through his Rohnert Park business, North Bay Trust Services.
Cupp promised to get rid of the debt in exchange for upfront fees of as much as $7,500 and 30 percent of whatever loan he “killed,” prosecutor Amy Ariyoshi said.
A banner outside his Commerce Boulevard storefront read, “Mortgage problems? WeKillYourMortgage.com.”
But he never delivered on his pledge, instead leaving clients, including his own mother, in danger of losing their homes, she said.
An early estimate is he cost Bay Area banks $400,000 in missed payments.
“He basically took advantage of desperate people who were trying to keep houses they couldn't afford,” Ariyoshi said.
Cupp, who had been free on bail during his trial, was taken into custody following the June 4 verdict. He is expected to remain behind bars until his July 29 sentencing.
He represented himself during about a week of court testimony.
Cupp's sentencing will bring to a close a scheme that emerged last year when Marin County authorities spotted fake deeds to properties in San Rafael and Corte Madera.
An investigation revealed Cupp had filed fake documents that challenged his clients' lenders to prove they had legal title to properties, prosecutors said. The moves were an attempt to take over the title and become the loan holder on those properties, prosecutors said.
He operated six websites and had clients across the Bay Area.
He was charged along with two former co-defendants in a 57-count criminal complaint alleging acts between March 2011 and January 2012. His co-defendants were later cleared of wrongdoing.
A number of counts were thrown out after a pre-trial hearing. Cupp's mother testified at his trial under a subpoena.
Jurors returned guilty verdicts on 15 counts and deadlocked on three theft charges. Cupp is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rene Chouteau.
A handful of civil lawsuits against Cupp are pending, Ariyoshi said.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org