Former Petaluma man sent to prison for mortgage scheme

A federal judge sentenced a former Petaluma man to 37 months in prison this week for securing a phony mortgage loan that let him buy a home on Muscat Circle in Petaluma, U.S. Attorney's officials said.

Justin Batemon, 34, pleaded guilty Jan. 31 and was sentenced Wednesday to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said. Batemon also will have to pay restitution, although an amount was unspecified.

Batemon was a client of San Francisco loan officer Jacob Moynihan who federal prosecutors said masterminded a scheme that involved $15 million in fraudulent mortgage loans.

Moynihan helped Batemon, a Petaluma High grad, and five others, including members of the Sonoma County Hells Angels motorcycle club, buy or refinance homes in Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Healdsburg, officials said.

Moynihan recruited straw buyers to obtain the loans in exchange for cash, according to a 25-count federal indictment filed in 2011.

Batemon got involved in 2006 when Moynihan hired him to do remodeling work at several properties, said his attorney, Robert Waggener. Batemon and his fiance had a newborn girl and were looking to get out of a rat-infested double-wide trailer.

Waggener said Batemon had a limited role in the overall scheme.

"He wasn't involved in Hells Angels, he was not involved in other loans and he was not involved with the others who bought properties to cultivate marijuana," Waggener said.

But the prosecution said Batemon lied on documents to qualify for a loan.

Batemon said he was self-employed at a fake company and inflated his income on the documents, prepared by Moynihan, that helped him buy a single-family home at 801 Muscat Court near Maria Drive, Haag said.

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