Veteran character actor Tommy Lister, perhaps best known for his role as Deebo, the bully who terrorized Ice Cube's neighborhood in the Friday comedy trilogy, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy in a mortgage fraud scheme.
Lister, 54, of Chatsworth, California, faced federal charges along with Arcelia Chavez, 48, of Northridge, a self-employed certified tax preparer who participated in the scheme. Chavez also has agreed to plead guilty. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The conspiracy, which ran from 2005 to 22007 and involved several other participants, involved four properties, with Lister serving as the buyer. In order to fund the purchases, Lister obtained mortgages far in excess of what he could afford though inflated representations of his income and assets; forged bank statements and other documents; and falsified escrow records which created the false impression that down payments were made from Lister's funds, and did not disclose kickbacks made from the sellers to Lister.
Lister defaulted on all the first mortgages, totalling $5.7 million, and on home equity loans he later accquired on which he drew down an additional $1.15 million. The first mortgage lenders were able to recoup approximately $3.1 million when the homes were seized through foreclosure, leaving losses exceeding $3.7 million.
Relying on the fraudulent applications and documents, lenders issued mortgages totaling $5.7 million. Lister subsequently defaulted on the four mortgages, causing those lenders and their successors to lose approximately $2.6 million.
Chavez conspired with Lister in falsely documenting his financial credentials on some of the transactions-- preparing a CPA letter falsely representing Lister's taxes, and fake W2s and pay stubs.
In addition to his acting career, Lister, who is 6' 5" and approximately 300 pounds, achieved brief fame as a pro wrestler in the late 1980s under the name "Zeus the Wrecking Machine". Zeus participated in a story line in which he feuded with Hulk Hogan, ultimately ending in matches where Hulk and his allies were victorious.