LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A North Hollywood man pleaded guilty Monday, May 6, to participating in a $17 million real estate fraud scheme that preyed on distressed homeowners, many of whom were elderly.

Camerino “Mino” Islas, 41, is expected to be sentenced Aug. 26 on one federal count of conspiracy, a felony that carries a prison sentence of up to five years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said Islas and various co-defendants tricked homeowners into signing fraudulent deeds on their properties, then used the bogus deeds to extort money, charge illegal fees to delay foreclosure and eviction actions, and steal some homes outright.

When the scheme’s alleged ringleader — Michael “Mickey” Henschel, 70, of Van Nuys — was arrested in March 2018, he was already under indictment in a previous foreclosure-avoidance and bankruptcy fraud scam, federal prosecutors said. He is scheduled to go to trial in Los Angeles federal court at the end of this month.

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