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Last Updated Friday, August 15, 2008 10:00 PM Texas Time

August 15, 2008

RE Investor Sentenced
Wilson James Baston, Jr. was sentenced to 135 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $22.3 million in full restitution and criminal forfeiture. Baston defrauded about 235 victims through his real estate investment firm, Will James Equity Partners, Inc. in which he claimed investors could make high interest returns on their money with the purchase of distressed homes.

Ex-Cops Plead Guilty
Marcus Adkins and Richard Alvarez were charged with 14 counts of conspiring to engage in fraudulent real estate transactions while they were on the Lakewood Police Department. The pair purchased homes in Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio through their company Copper Properties, Inc and then inflated the properties values to defraud several mortgage lenders. Sentencing is set for October.
Read story at My Fox Cleveland

Dare Finally Sentenced
Former Urban League leader and New Yorker Aaron Dare was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $2 million in restitution after admitting his role in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme. Dare and girlfriend Ana Paula Montiero still face charges of grand larceny and money laundering related to the scheme.
Read story at WGY 850 News

August 14, 2008

Actions Against Oregon Violators
Oregon is taking action against four mortgage companies over allegations of mortgage fraud, incomplete licensing and inadequate supervision of originators. A cease-and-desist order was issued against Allegiance Mortgage LLC, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services said in a statement yesterday. In addition, the mortgage broker's lending license was revoked and the company, along with owner Brian Fallini, was fined $50,000.
Read story at MortgageDaily.com

Four Men, 25-Count Indictment
Gerald Carti, 61, Frederick Ugwu, 51, Renford Davis, 37, and Amer Mir, 39, all of New Jersey, have been charged in a $20 million mortgage fraud and property-flipping scheme. Carti was a loan officer and shareholder of U.S. Mortgage Corp.; Ugwu was a real estate investor who allegedly made $2 million in profit; Mir was a loan officer for United Home Mortgage Co.; and Davis controlled a real estate management firm. They have all been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
Read story at NewJersey.com

Another Pleads Guilty in D.C. Scandal
Alethia Grooms, 52, admitted she played a role in a $50 million scam that involved mortgage fraud. A total of nine people have pleaded guilty in the case including and three more still face charges; Harriette Walters, Jayrece Turnbull and a former tax office employee Diane Gustus. Grooms could face up to 46 months in prison.
Read story at The Washington Post

Politician and Wife Guilty of Fraud
Richard Culbertson and his wife Kathleen admitted to falsifying application information to obtain a mortgage loan. Culbertson had ran for mayor but subsequently lost after pleading guilty to fraud. Their attorney is questioning the amount of restitution in the pre-sentence report for Culbertson, which is in the amount of $1.2 million. He claims it would be merely 1/10th of that amount. The couple are to appear in court again on Aug. 21.
Read story at Deseret News

Broker Inflated Loan Amounts
Jason McCord, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering. McCord admitted that while operating JR Lending and Q3 Mortgage he inflated applicant’s earnings and their loan amounts, and then kept the proceeds. He made over $650,000 from 55 victims in Ohio. McCord was sentenced to 54 months in prison followed by five years supervised release.
Read story at The Columbus Dispatch

Straw Buyer in Utah Fraud Admits Guilt
Jeffery David Garrett, 44, faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Garrett, who admittedly misrepresented himself as the vice-president of Precision Title, will be sentenced along with Bradley Kitchen, Steven Wells Cloward and David Bolick, for his role in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme.
Read story at Deseret News

Back in the News
News 10 is following the progress in a local mortgage fraud scheme involving Ifthikhar Ahmad, who is currently out on a $1 million bond, and under investigation again for more mortgage fraud. The FBI said Ahmad bought and sold more than 100 houses over the last 10 years. They are now questioning several real estate professionals linked to Ahmad.
Read story at News 10

Mortgage President Pleads Guilty
John Robert Miller, president of American Mortgage Link and Solutions Processing Inc, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in the amount of $1.1 million. Miller brokered his loans to Coast Bank of Bradenton, which was subsequently bought out by First Banks of St. Louis.
Read story at Tampa Bay Online

August 13, 2008

L.O. Pleads Guilty
Andrae Bellfield pleaded guilty to his role in a $4.9 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved at least 24 homes in Minneapolis and Golden Valley. Bellfield will be sentenced to two years in prison and has agreed to testify against Universal Mortgage president Donald Walthall and another L.O., Marlin Pratt.
Read story at Star Tribune

Fraud Convict Caught
Cornelius Craig Robinson, 48, ringleader of an Austin, Texas-area mortgage fraud scheme was apprehended yesterday in Caldwell County by the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force.
Read story at Austin News 8

August 12, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter
Clarissa Foster, president of Shaker Title Services, and her mother, Bettie Simpson, the office manager, have been convicted of mortgage fraud in Ohio. Foster was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $100,000 for fraud involving nine houses in the Cleveland area. Her mother was sentenced to three years probation and restitution of $1,000.
Read story at Cleveland Metro News

Fraud Convict on the Lam
Cornelius Craig Robinson, 48, was convicted of heading a mortgage fraud scheme in Texas. He fled before his scheduled sentencing last week. Law enforcement officials are asking the public’s help.
Read story at KEYE TV News

Six Sentenced in Tampa Fraud
Six pleaded guilty in a scam that cost lenders $2.3 million: Christopher Erik Septon was sentenced to three years supervised release and more than $2.3 million in joint restitution, along with Sean Brian Leaf who was sentenced to 18months in prison and three years probation; Joddilee Margaret Lindberg was sentenced to four years probation and eight months of community confinement with work release; Micah Daniel Thormodsgaard received three years probation, Edward Arnold Septon received almost six years in prison and five years supervised release; and Christopher Adam Horton got two years in prison and three years supervised release.
Read story at KSAX News

Trio Scams Celebrities, Investors
Jeffrey Wigginton, of Lapin and Wigginton Asset Management, a subsidiary of Premiere Holdings LP, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and is expected to testify against his former partner David Lapin. The pair scammed investors including Chuck Norris and Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. Both men pleaded guilty and were indicted with a third man Ted Murray who is scheduled for trial in a few weeks. Officials say investors lost at least $30 million.
Read story at The Chronicle

License to Roam Requested
Two of the four men indicted in an $83 million Florida mortgage fraud scheme have requested that they be able to leave the area while awaiting trial. Sarasota lawyer John Yanchek is asking to travel as a judge in a cat show and Larry P. Nardelli, a financial consultant for real estate development projects, is asking for permission to travel across the country as well as the Bahamas to consult with clients.
Read story at Tampa Bay Online

Appraiser Pleads Guilty
Steven Wells Cloward is the third person to plead guilty in an $18 million mortgage fraud involving multi-million dollar Provo homes in Utah. Cloward faces up to 20 years in prison for one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. For the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped the other 18 counts in the indictment. Of the six involved, Cloward, Bradley Grant Kitchen and David R. Bolick have pleaded guilty, two are awaiting trial and the charges were dropped against the sixth due to lack of evidence.
Read story at Deseret News

August 11, 2008

RE Attorney, Broker Busted for Flipping
Joseph Kriz, 45, pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, fraud in loan and credit applications and mail fraud. Kriz, a real estate attorney and mortgage broker defrauded several lending institutions and investors out of $8 million on multiple transactions. Sentencing is set for October 23, 2008. If convicted, Kriz faces a maximum of 65 years in prison and up to $16 million in fines.

Man Conspires Fraud from Jail
While Riley Graham was awaiting sentencing in the Atlanta City Detention Center he continued to try to defraud homeowners by discussing a scam on a conference call with six others. He was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison for that crime after he finishes a 20-year sentence for drug crimes in Michigan.
Read story at Atlanta Journal-Constitution

California Pair Commit Fraud
Arthur Lee Harris, 35, and Nestor Miguel Reyes, 33, both of Canada, are accused of stealing more than $105,000 from a woman in a mortgage fraud scheme. Reyes was arrested for perjury, theft and forgery. Harris is wanted on the same charges but is on the run. Ontario police are asking the public’s help to find him.
Read story at The Sun

Ohio Couple Plead Guilty
James Sims, 57, and Corritha Wells, 42, both pleaded guilty to committing mortgage fraud in the amount totaling $6.8 million involving 47 houses. Sims, the former director of Country Home Mortgage even submitted his own fraudulent loan in the amount of $550,000. Wells, a former loan officer for now defunct Ace Home Loan is guilty of 22 counts of theft by deception for 22 separate loans. Sentencing is set for October.

Since 2007, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Bill Mason said, 181 defendants have been prosecuted in $50 million worth of fraud involving 290 houses in 20 surrounding communities.
Read story at The Plain Dealer

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