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Disbarred Naperville attorney gets 57 months for mortgage fraud

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A disbarred west suburban attorney was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison Wednesday for her role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

Avalon Betts-Gaston, 47, of Naperville was convicted by a jury last year of two counts of wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Betts-Gaston, a lawyer, and co-defendant Dimona Ross, a real estate loan officer, founded IJCN Investments in Chicago Ridge, which purported to “help distressed homeowners refinance their homers to avoid foreclosure,” according to prosecutors. They were involved in several real estate transactions in Cook County, with Betts-Gaston handling the legal aspects and Ross obtaining the mortgages.

However, instead of refinancing homes, they arranged for the properties to be sold to a straw buyer, prosecutors said. They submitted false applications for mortgage loans, eradicated the homeowners’ legal rights in their properties, and obtained all of their equity.

Prosecutors said they defrauded homeowners out of more than $725,000. Betts-Gaston and Ross received fees for the deals, and the straw buyers were paid thousands of dollars.

The investment firm was dissolved in 2008, and Betts-Gaston was disbarred in 2012.

U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle sentenced Betts-Gaston to 57 months in prison, according to the statement. She was also ordered to pay $239,550.48 in restitution.

Ross pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11.