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Vegas lawyer pleads guilty in mortgage fraud case

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A Las Vegas lawyer has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and fraud charges in a mortgage scheme that prosecutors say cost banks $30 million.

The 43-year-old Gerry Zobrist pleaded Monday to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine at sentencing April 15.

Prosecutors say Zobrist and his co-conspirators enlisted straw buyers to purchase homes in the Las Vegas area, and then had the sellers disburse part of the proceeds to entities controlled by Zobrist and the others.

Prosecutors say Zobrist and his co-conspirators purchased 144 homes under the scheme and obtained loans for more than $53 million. But authorities say they defaulted on the loans, and the foreclosures caused about $30 million in losses for banks.