Anthony G. Symmes rose to the top of the heap in Butte County as a Chico-based developer, builder and civic leader, but he took a hard fall because he got mixed up with Garret Griffith Gililland III, for whom mortgage fraud was a way of life.
Straw buyers recruited by Gililland and his minions paid inflated prices for Symmes homes and acquired 100 percent financing with phony appraisals and bogus income documents ginned up by Gililland's crew. Symmes kicked back to Gililland or an associate the amount exceeding the true value of the homes. Gililland took care of the buyers.
Symmes, 61, was sentenced Friday in federal court to a month less than three years in prison on a guilty plea to conspiring to commit mail fraud and money laundering. He admitted engaging in a multimillion-dollar plot that picked the pocket of lenders for up to $7 million.