U.S. Attorney General Benjamin B. Wagner announced Thursday the arrest of three leaders of Shon-Te-East-A, Walks With Spirit, an organization that eliminates practitioners' spiritually cumbersome mortgage debt.
In a 42-count indictment, John Michael DiChiara, 57, along with Laura Pezzi, 59, of Roseville, Calif., and Michael Romano, 68, of Benicia, Calif., were charged with conspiracy, bank fraud, document falsification and money laundering.
Shon-te-East-a, Walks With Spirit's "archbishop," DiChiara, and his consorts are accused of fraudulently liquidating mortgage loans while making money from the proceeds of 37 properties.
Through a system of fake deeds of trust and fake deeds of reconveyance, the organization tried to liquidate more than $60 million in mortgage loans — all in the name of spiritual relief, the U.S. Attorney alleges.
Four other individuals were charged in the case. Two others, Tisha Trites, 49, and Todd Smith, 44, who are both from San Diego, have already pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on related charges.
The arrests and indictments are the result of a Federal Bureau of Investigation sting.