A Newman man convicted of an aggravated white collar crime has been sentenced to four years in state prison, Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager announced last week.

The district attorney’s office said Ralph Leyva, 63, of Newman, was convicted Sept. 10 on charges stemming from a real estate fraud case.

According to a district attorney press release, Leyva solicited money from two victims under the false pretense of selling them bulk foreclosed properties owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at a 30 percent discount. The victims were made to believe that California REO Services, LLC, which Leyva operated out of a Fresno address, was facilitating the sales in which two investors specifically picked five houses from a list provided by Leyva.

Victims wired funds to Delta Escrow, with a Tracy address, that was also owned by Leyva.

Prosecutors contended that the enterprises were phony businesses used solely to facilitate the scam. Delta Escrow had a business account with Chase bank, the press release stated, and Leyva would then transfer money to a personal Wells Fargo account. Leyva used the aliases of George Anderson and Andrew Taylor in the scheme.

“Mr. Leyva’s web of deceit extended from Fresno to San Diego to Newman, whereby investors lost over $500,000” said Deputy District Attorney Jeff Mangar, who prosecuted the case.

The case was investigated by the district attorney’s real estate fraud unit in cooperation with the Federal Housing Finance Agency - Office of the Inspector General.

“The housing agency is still rife with fraudsters like Leyva who believe they can take advantage of the foreclosure environment to line their own pockets at the expense of others,” commented Leslie DeMarco, special agent in charge of the Federal Housing Finance Agency - Office of Inspector General. “His behavior was deceitful and harmed innocent people. Fraud within the housing market comes in many forms, and our agency will remain committed to finding justice along with our law enforcement partners, for all of the victims who have been harmed by under-handed individuals.”

Despite having no prior criminal history, Levya received the maximum sentence and was ordered to pay full restitution.