Mortgage Fraud Investigators Nab College Teacher/State Worker

An employee with the state Department of Environmental Quality who also teaches for the University of Phoenix has been been indicted for mortgage fraud.

Kailash Bhatt tried to sell the granite countertops and appliances of a foreclosed home in direct violation of the mortgage contract, says Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Authorities say Bhatt put the items on Craigslist and accepted $2,000 as part of a negotiated $9,000 payment on them. But the person buying the stuff was an FBI agent looking for just this kind of crime.

Agents investigating the crime saw that light fixtures and ceiling fans had already been removed from the home, Thomas' news release states.

"Everyone pays in the long run when criminals are scamming the system," Thomas states in the release.

Bhatt's Web site shows he ran a business hooking people up with foreclosed homes:

State records show Bhatt's a licensed real estate agent affiliated with Prestige Realty. He has no record of open complaints or disciplinary actions. He is, or was, a "unit manager" with the DEQ's waste division, and an adjunct faculty member with UoP's Department of Environmental Science.

Busy guy. Sounds like he's handy with a screwdriver, too.

UPDATE: Bhatt was found guilty of defrauding a secured creditor, a class 1 misdemeanor, and sentenced to two years' probation beginning April 1, 2010.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.