Florida Couple and Police Officer Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud

Female judge and gavel
A Kirkland, Fla. couple and a former police officer were sentenced for a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme.

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich sentenced George Cavallo, 47, his wife Paula Hornberger, 41, and former policeman Joel Streinz, 54, on Oct. 26. The sentencing was a part of a larger home loan fraud case involving dozens of participants.

The three defendants, Cavallo, Hornberger and Streinz, were arrested due to their participation in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to make false statements on home loan applications submitted to FDIC-insured mortgage lenders. Evidence presented during previous jury trials revealed that all three conspired to purchase residential property in the Sarasota area by reporting false claims on home loan applications. The purpose of the scam was to illegally obtain the maximum loan possible on each property and then re-sell it years later after it had appreciated in value. The applications included multiple instances of falsifications, including significant increases on the couple’s stated monthly income. This enabled them to apply for large, multi-million dollar home loans.

The conspiracy began in the late 1990s and it strengthened in 2004 when the local real estate market expanded. The plan ended during the 2008 market collapse.

Former policeman Streinz was sentenced to five years in federal prison for illegally stealing $6.2 million in home loans. He was ordered to pay back over $1 million in restitution. Cavallo and Hornberger collectively stole $8.3 million and were ordered to pay $13.2 million in restitution. The couple faces up to 10 years in a federally sanctioned prison.

This case is a part of one of the largest home loan fraud cases in Florida’s history. Ten other conspirators including Craig Adams and chief lieutenant Rich Bobka received their sentencing trial several days later. Bobka pleaded guilty and on Monday, Oct. 29, received a sentence of 15 years in prison. His sentencing was the longest punishment to date but remains 12 years fewer than the maximum sentence possible for this crime.  

During Bobka’s sentencing, he requested an apology to Judge Kovachevich. “I feel I owe your honor a humble and sincere apology,” Bobka said to the judge. “I don’t think words can describe how sorry I am. In the beginning, I didn’t really see banks as victims, but I see things differently now.”

During the trial of Cavallo, Hornberger and Streinz, the FBI stated that this was not a normal mortgage fraud case, but in reality, “they participated in a real estate investment scheme on steroids.”