m3898 BC-MN-MortageFraud 04-17 0139

Real estate company owners plead guilty to mortgage fraud

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two owners of a Roseville real estate company have pleaded guilty in a $35 million mortgage fraud scheme.

Forty-five-year-old Jonathan Edward Helgason of Chisago City and 37-year-old Thomas Joseph Balko of Rogers entered their pleas before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen. Their company, TJ Waconia LLC, also pleaded guilty.

Federal prosecutors say Helgason and Balko bought around 162 properties throughout the Twin Cities, mostly in north Minneapolis. They resold them to straw investors at inflated prices. Ultimately the scheme collapsed and mortgage lenders lost money.

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