Greenbelt, Md. - (May 15, 2009) Ronald Aaron Chapman, Jr., age 34, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme that falsely promised to help homeowners facing foreclosure keep their homes and repair their damaged credit, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
According to his plea agreement, in May 2005, co-defendants Joy Jackson and Jennifer McCall incorporated Metropolitan Money Store (MMS), located in Lanham, Maryland, which offered foreclosure consultation and credit services to financially distressed homeowners.
From September 2004 to June 2007, Chapman and others conspired to fraudulently promise to help homeowners, who had substantial equity in their homes but were facing foreclosure because of their inability to make monthly mortgage payments, avoid foreclosure and repair their damaged credit. The homeowners were directed to allow title to their homes to be put in the names of third party purchasers (the straw buyers) for a year, during which time MMS promised to improve the homeowners’ credit ratings, help them obtain more favorable mortgages, and eventually return title to their homes to them. The homeowners were told that the equity withdrawn from the properties would be used to pay the mortgage and expenses on their homes and to repair their credit. The straw buyers were paid up to $10,000 to participate in the scheme and allow the properties to be put in their names.
Using the homeowners’ properties, the conspirators applied for mortgages to extract the maximum available equity from the homes, and prepared and submitted fraudulent loan applications to mortgage lenders to obtain inflated loans on the target properties in the straw buyers’ names. At settlements, the conspirators imposed numerous fees and required “seller contributions” which were far in excess of industry standards; they imposed fees for services which were not performed, disclosed or explained to the homeowners; and they transferred the sale proceeds out of the escrow accounts into the conspirators’ business and personal bank accounts and converted a substantial portion of those funds to their personal use.
In September 2005, Chapman was hired to work as a loan officer for MMS. Chapman did not have any experience in the mortgage or financial services fields. Chapman was paid a commission based upon a percentage of each loan that he closed. Chapman received at least $66,870 from Jackson drawn on the fraudulently obtained equity transferred into accounts controlled by other conspirators. Victim homeowners directed title companies to disburse proceeds of sales of their homes to RAC Investment Property LLC, a company Chapman owned and operated. Chapman and others caused at least a total of $268,279 in equity proceeds from mortgage loans to be wire transferred into Chapman’s RAC Investment bank account.
The total loss attributable to Chapman’s conduct in the scheme is between $200,000 and $400,000.
Chapman faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus scheduled sentencing for December 7, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. As part of his plea, Chapman has agreed to pay restitution for the full amount of the victims’ losses.
Ronald Chapman is the tenth defendant to plead guilty in the Metropolitan Money Store mortgage fraud scheme. Nine other defendants have pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and are facing a maximum sentencing of 30 years in prison: Joy Jackson, age 41, and Jennifer McCall, age 47, both of Ft. Washington, Maryland, a chief executive officer of MMS and owner of JC and JC Investments LLC; Jackson’s husband Kurt Fordham, age 39, of Ft. Washington, Maryland, president of Fordham & Fordham Investment Group, Ltd. (F&F), a foreclosure consulting and credit servicing business based in Lanham and Greenbelt, Maryland and a director of F&F and Burroughs & Smythe Financial Services, Inc. (B&S) based in Lanham; Wilbur Ballesteros, age 33, of Lanham, Maryland, a real estate agent; Katisha Fordham, age 35, of Washington, D.C., a loan processor at MMS; Richard Allison, age 37, of Camp Springs, Maryland, an attorney and employee of the U.S. Census Bureau; Clifford McCall, age 47, of Lanham, Maryland, president of B&S and a director of F&F; Carlisha Dixon, age 31, of Hyattsville, Maryland, vice president and a director of B&S; and Chandra Jones, age 31, of Lanham, Maryland, the daughter of Jennifer and Clifford McCall.
The Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force was established to unify the agencies that regulate and investigate mortgage fraud and promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of mortgage fraud schemes. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to protect consumers from fraud and promote the integrity of the credit markets. Information about mortgage fraud prosecutions is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Mortgage-Fraud/index.html.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Financial Regulation Investigative Unit for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell IV and Christen Sproule, who are prosecuting the case.
SOURCE: United States Department of Justice -- District of Maryland