L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies Acquitted of Mortgage Fraud

A federal judge has acquitted three Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who were accused of defrauding mortgage lenders in a so-called “buy-and-bail” scheme. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real made the decision Thursday, citing a lack of evidence. No reasonable jury, he concluded, would convict the three deputies, who also happen to be brothers.

Billy, Benny, and Johnny Khounthavong were among 18 current and former sheriff’s officials who were indicted in 2013 as part of a federal investigation into alleged abuse at L.A. County jails. Though the three were not accused of mistreating inmates, prosecutors said they had lied on federal financial documents in order to skirt $340,000 owed on previous homes to obtain a second mortgage.

Judge Real said he saw no evidence of an attempt to deceive, nor evidence that the lenders were harmed in anyway. He further questioned the purpose of the FBI’s involvement, considering the fact that the banks had never complained about the brothers’ actions in the first place.

Since prosecutors cannot appeal the judge’s ruling, Assistant U.S. Atty. Margaret Carter has said her office will take no further action.

Read more about the acquittals here.