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Hells Angels leader sentenced in mortgage fraud scheme

By Todd Sperry, CNN
updated 7:09 PM EDT, Fri April 6, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Josh Leo Johnson is sentenced to a year in prison under plea deal
  • He must also pay $130,000 in restitution to SunTrust Mortgage
  • He is vice president of the motorcycle gang's Sonoma, California, chapter

Washington (CNN) -- A leader of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang was sentenced this week to a year in prison and ordered to pay $130,000 in restitution to SunTrust Mortgage for spearheading a mortgage fraud scheme.

In a plea agreement reached with federal authorities, Josh Leo Johnson, vice president of the Sonoma, California, chapter of the motorcycle group, admitted that from 2006 until 2007, he conspired to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's office.

The FBI accused Johnson of signing false loan applications and charged him with interstate wire transfers of loan money. The FBI said those loan transfers ended up in Johnson's bank account.

According to court documents, Johnson falsified statements, making it appear as though he owned a fictitious company, and inflated his salary to make his income appear more substantial. Additionally, he misrepresented his bank account balances, and the FBI said his actions cost SunTrust more than $135,000.

Johnson pleaded guilty in December to wire fraud. As part of his sentencing, handed down Wednesday, the Hells Angels leader is required to serve at least half of his sentence in federal prison.

Founded in 1948, the Hells Angels has chapters in 35 different countries, according to the group's website. The group is mostly known as a ragtag gang of motorcycle outlaws -- an image the group refutes. A message on the website reads, "When we do right nobody remembers, when we do wrong nobody forgets."

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