Former UH-Hilo hoopster sentenced for mortgage fraud


A former University of Hawaii at Hilo basketball player was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in federal prison for masterminding a mortgage fraud scheme.

Honolulu U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi also sentenced 48-year-old William “J.J.” Vroom of Poway, California, to five years supervised release, the federal equivalent of probation.

Vroom, a Maui native who was a reserve guard for the Vulcans in the late 1980s, owned and operated a mortgage brokerage and investment firm in San Diego called Alii Financial Corp. Vroom and two other co-defendants, 58-year-old Sonya Evans of Honolulu and 53-year-old Janice Ganitano of Pearl City, Oahu, pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud charges involving a home owned by Ganitano’s elderly mother, who suffers from dementia.

Under Vroom’s direction, Ganitano applied for a $247,000 mortgage loan from Eastern Savings Bank of Maryland, falsely stating the home was a rental property with an occupant, when it was in fact her mother’s residence. Evans signed a false statement that the home was being leased by Ganitano’s mother to her mother.

The bank deposited $244,000 in an escrow account controlled by Vroom. Documents state Vroom took $223,000, while Ganitano received $18,000 and Evans, $3,000.

Vroom lied to Ganitano, telling her he’d put the $223,000 into an investment program to make payments on the new mortgage on the mother’s home. The investment never occurred.

Evans was sentenced to one day in federal prison, two years of supervised release and 50 hours community service. Ganitano was sentenced to six months in federal prison and five years supervised release.

Vroom faced a possible 30-year prison term.

 

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