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Company owners plead guilty in scheme to clear credit histories

Five of 10 people charged in a scheme to clean up negative credit ratings by duping credit rating agencies with forged police reports have struck plea deals with prosecutors.

On Monday, the owners of Tradeline Pros Michael Olden and Shafiq Beria pleaded guilty of felony establishing a forgery laboratory. As part of the deal, multiple other counts of forgery and racketeering were dropped.

Leticia Menjivar, Denise Navarro and Janette Navarro also took deals and agreed to testify.

Menjivar was adjudicated guilty of racketeering and other charges. When she fulfills her agreement, the charges will be reduced to gross misdemeanors.

Denise Navarro and Janette Navarro were adjudicated guilty of felony forgery charges.

Patrick Williams’ case was delayed until Dec. 19.

Arrest warrants were issued for three others involved in the scheme following a grand jury indictment last month, including Rashid Salim, 20, James Kobernusz, 36, and Donnie Coloma, 26.

The last defendant, Arthur Bethae, 46, is in a Pennsylvania prison serving time on a forgery count in a separate case, prosecutors said.

Tradeline Pros was busted after a year-long investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department with help from the U.S. Secret Service.

Court documents show customers would pay $3,000 and Tradeline Pros would “sweep” or clean up negative credit ratings, clearing the way to get a loan for a car or mortgage for a home.

Investigators said Tradeline Pros was sending the agencies forged reports indicating their clients were victims of identity theft and their credit ratings should be restored to a favorable rating.

The investigation showed Tradeline Pros forged 174 police reports from different law enforcement agencies across the U.S.

Prosecutors said the company used false mastheads from Las Vegas and Henderson police and authorities in California and New York.

Police first learned of the scheme when one of the forged reports was flagged by a credit reporting agency.

Tradeline Pros would “perform a credit sweep service which they defined as a deletion of all negative items … on client’s credit reports from all three credit bureaus, in that they did not continue to negatively affect the client’s credit reports and credit scores,” a police report said.

A search warrant of the business, located at 2800 Sahara Avenue, near Rancho Drive, found the company had copies of notary stamps and dissemination insignia for the Metropolitan Police Department. Investigators also recovered a list of police officers’ names and badge numbers from law enforcement agencies from around the U.S.

According to the Tradeline Pros website, the company, on average, is able to “remove 75% of negative items from your reports in the first month.”

Investigators said Tradeline Pros sent the forged police reports to consumer credit reporting agencies TransUnion, Experian and Equifax on behalf of their clients.

“The evidence provides a level of sophistication and organization in conducting large scale criminal activity with a hierarchy,” according to a police report.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.

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