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Plea Deal in ‘Rent-to-Own’ Scheme

Washington Man Costs Banks Millions in Portland Scheme

Portland, Ore. – (Sept. 23, 2008) United States Attorney Karin Immergut today announced that Jeremy Richardson, 31, Ridgefield, Washington plead guilty to money laundering in United States District Court in Portland Oregon. The plea follows a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of a mortgage fraud scheme devised and carried out by Richardson during 2007.

During the plea hearing today before the Honorable Judge Anna J. Brown, Richardson admitted that he advertised and solicited persons interested in buying real estate, either to live in or as an investment. If an investor was not able to qualify for the necessary mortgage financing, Richardson would falsify the buyer/investor qualifications and information provided to the lender. If the home was being purchased as an investment, Richardson would advertise for persons interested in participating in a “rent to own” program to live in the home purchased by the investor.

Richardson admitted that he inflated the property transaction price on certain transactions in order to get extra money to use to pay business expenses including required mortgage payments on purchased real estate. He created false invoices purporting to represent repairs performed on certain properties in support of the falsely inflated prices. He also induced some customers to advance him money which he represented would be used to make a down payment on certain properties, but which he instead used to pay personal and business expenses.

He used interstate wire transmissions to communicate and advertise, and for transfers of funds to carry out the scheme, including a $50,000 transfer from a Wells Fargo bank account belonging to a victim investor in California, to a Bank of America account in Portland Oregon he controlled. Evidence indicated that Richardson’s scheme involved real estate financing transactions on as many as 90-100 residential properties.

Money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release. The plea agreement in Richardson’s case calls for a sentence of 37 months in prison in addition to payment of full restitution. Judge Brown scheduled the sentencing hearing on January 5, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.

SOURCE: United States Attorney's Office
District of Oregon

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