Francois, 49, who now lives in Humble, Texas, pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to two counts of wire fraud in a mortgage lending scheme.
The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Francois, owner of America’s Best Mortgage and Creative Solutions in St. Martinville, submitted false loan applications on behalf of clients to mortgage lenders. She also falsified documents to make it appear borrowers were purchasing homes for significantly higher amounts than the actual purchase price.
The scheme ran from September 2005 through February 2008 and resulted in about $2.3 million in mortgages for people who did not have the income or credit rating necessary to obtain loans, the newspaper reported.
Francois admitted that she made agreements with sellers that allowed her to pocket the difference between loans and purchase prices as part of her “payment” for obtaining the loan.
Francois faces a possible maximum 20-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the two counts. She remains free on bail pending sentencing.
In the May 2002 runoff election for the St. Martinville City Council, Francois lost the District 3 seat to Pam Thibodeaux by 13 votes. Francois filed suit and the district court found that while a dozen people voted illegally, it was not enough by one vote to order a new election.
Eight people were subsequently convicted of election fraud, Pam Thibodeaux in federal court and seven of her supporters in state court.
Francois could not be reached for comment.