Rhonda Scott, 52, Oxon Hill, Maryland, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with two separate mortgage fraud schemes which resulted in losses of over $2.5 million. Niesha Williams, 34, Fort Washington, Maryland, was sentenced to 27 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with one of the mortgage fraud schemes.
Judge Bredar entered an order that Scott forfeit $2.7 million and pay restitution of $703,000.
Judge Bredar ordered that Williams forfeit $3.1 million and pay restitution of $1,445,593
According to their plea agreements, beginning in 2008, Scott participated in several fraudulent real estate transactions that settled at M&R Title, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, and at Sanford Title Services, Columbia, Maryland. The fraudulent transactions at each title company were part of different conspiracies. In both schemes, Scott facilitated deals between her co-conspirators, recruited individuals that could be parties to the real estate transactions, received proceeds of the fraudulent transactions through a shell company designed to hide her receipt of the funds, sent money to co-conspirators and identified mortgage transactions that the co-conspirators could use to enrich themselves.
As part of the M&R Title conspiracy, Scott, Demetrius Peete and others deceived buyers, sellers and lenders to make it appear to sellers that they were selling their property at a low price, and to buyers and lenders that the property was being sold at a higher price. The co-conspirators created paperwork for two different sales of the property at the same time. The first sale was fraudulent because it was backdated, the buyer planned to immediately flip the property in a subsequent sale and the settlement statement listed a fake loan. In the second sale, the sales price was significantly increased and the settlement statement showed a large sum being disbursed to the lender to payoff an existing lien. In fact, those funds were improperly disbursed to the co-conspirators.
As to the Sanford Title conspiracy, Scott, Peete, Bonnie Kraemer, Niesha Williams, Emeka Udeze and others used many fraudulent techniques, including: short sales in which the property would be sold for a higher price than the seller was aware of; sales of properties not owned by the seller, including properties Scott purported to own but in fact did not; multiple sales of the same property at the same time; the seller and/or buyer were shown different settlement statements and the conspirators used the difference in sales price to enrich themselves; and money that should have been paid to lien holders was instead disbursed to the co-conspirators. Williams facilitated deals between her co-conspirators, sent funds illegally obtained from real estate transactions to her co-conspirators, and identified mortgage transactions that the co-conspirators could use to enrich themselves.
Both of the M&R Title and Sanford Title fraud schemes involved at least 25 victims, including lenders, sellers and buyers of real estate, title insurance companies and lien holders. The reasonably foreseeable loss associated with Scott’s conduct was at least $2.5 million. The loss associated with Williams’ offenses was at least $3.1 million.
Bonnie Kathleen Kreamer, a/k/a Bonnie Meehan, 49, Riva, Maryland; Emeka Udeze, 39, Bowie, Maryland; Shola Risikat Balogun, 48, Upper Marlboro; Gregory Green, 49, Waldorf, Maryland; and Demetrius Peete, 46, Manassas, Virginia, each previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the fraud schemes. Kreamer, who was responsible for the daily operations at Sanford Title, was sentenced on April 25, 2014 to 51 months in prison, and ordered to pay restitution of $2,499,048 to the victims and to forfeit $4.8 million. Green was previously sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $404,596. The other conspirators await sentencing.
The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Principal Deputy Inspector General Fred W. Gibson, Jr. of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Special Agent in Charge Cary A. Rubenstein of the Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Gene E. Morrison, Washington Field Office, U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General; Howard County Police Chief William McMahon; Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service—Baltimore Field Office; and Howard County State’s Attorney Dario Broccolino.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, FDIC, HUD-OIG, Department of Justice OIG, Howard County Police Department and Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Harry Gruber and Special Assistant United States Attorney Colleen McGuinn assigned to this case from the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office, who prosecuted the case.