LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A former Los Angeles resident who was a federal fugitive for 12 years pleaded guilty today to aggravated identity theft and bankruptcy fraud for a massive scam that promised to postpone foreclosure sales for more than 800 distressed homeowners in the Southland and elsewhere.

Glen Alan Ward, 48, pleaded guilty in connection with three separate sets of charges in federal courts in Los Angeles and San Francisco, all stemming from his 15-year fraud, according to the Department of Justice.

Ward became a federal fugitive in 2000 when he failed to appear in court after signing a plea agreement, which arose out of federal charges in Los Angeles related to his early conduct in the scheme, prosecutors said.

Two years later, Ward was indicted on multiple counts of bankruptcy fraud in the Bay Area for continuing the scheme in and around San Francisco.

In 2012, he was indicted on mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and additional bankruptcy fraud counts in Los Angeles after fleeing to Canada and continuing his fraud from there, according to federal officials.

While in Canada, Ward recruited Frederic Alan Gladle, who was indicted in Los Angeles federal court for bankruptcy fraud and identity theft. Gladle was later sentenced to five years in custody.

On April 5, 2012, Ward was arrested in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Waterloo Regional Police Service based on a U.S. provisional arrest warrant. He was extradited to the United States last December to answer all three sets of charges in Los Angeles.

“Mr. Ward fled the United States years ago in an attempt to keep his fraudulent foreclosure scheme running,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.

“Today’s conviction should serve as a reminder that criminals can run, but they can’t hide. The reach of the federal law is long, and scammers like Ward, who try to take advantage of distressed homeowners, will be tracked down and prosecuted regardless of their efforts to do otherwise.”

According to the plea agreement, Ward admitted engaging in a fraud scheme that solicited and recruited homeowners whose properties were in danger of imminent foreclosure, promising to delay foreclosure for as long as the homeowners could afford his $700 monthly fee.

Once a homeowner paid the fee, Ward accessed a public bankruptcy database and retrieved the name of an individual debtor who recently filed bankruptcy. He then directed his clients to execute, notarize and record a grant deed transferring generally a fractional interest in their distressed home into the name of the debtor that Ward provided, the plea agreement states.

After stealing the debtor’s identity, Ward faxed a copy of the bankruptcy petition, the notarized grant deed and a cover letter to the homeowner’s lender or the lender’s representative, directing it to stop the
impending foreclosure sale due to the bankruptcy, according to the plea agreement.

Because bankruptcy filings give rise to automatic stays that protect debtors’ properties, the receipt of the bankruptcy petitions and deeds in the debtors’ names forced lenders to cancel foreclosure sales.

The lenders, which included banks that received government funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, could not move forward to collect money that was owed to them until getting permission from the bankruptcy courts, thereby repeatedly delaying the lenders’ recovery of their money for months and even years.

In addition, if distressed homeowners wanted to complete a loan modification or short sale, they were left to the mercy of Ward to send them forged deeds, supposedly signed by the debtors, to re-unify their titles as required by most lenders, according to federal prosecutors.

Ward delayed the foreclosure sales of about 800 distressed properties by using at least 414 bankruptcies filed in 26 judicial districts across the country. During that same period, Ward admitted collecting more than $1.2 million from his clients who paid for his illegal foreclosure-delay services, all of which he has agreed to forfeit, according to court documents.

Each count of bankruptcy fraud carries a potential sentence of five years in prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a two-year mandatory sentence, to run consecutive to any other sentence, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer set July 29 for sentencing.