California woman sentenced in $4 million scheme that duped homeowners on mortgage-debt relief

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LOS ANGELES — A Southern California woman has been sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison for leading a $4 million scheme that falsely promised to erase mortgage debts for hundreds of homeowners.

Prosecutors say the woman received fees from troubled homeowners but did nothing to help them.

Forty-five year old Maria Marcela Gonzalez of Whittier was sentenced Monday on two counts of making false declarations by Judge Stephen V. Wilson in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

He called her actions "callous and in gross disregard of the law."

Gonzalez pleaded guilty in July.

She started the scam in 2010 and operated out of Montebello, California.

Prosecutors say she collected $15,000 each from about 400 mostly Spanish-speaking homeowners, but only sent worthless paperwork to lenders.

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