2 Sentenced for Escrow Fraud

admin —  March 4, 2010 — Leave a comment

Derrick Beaulieu, 38, and Shawnzell Venson, 37, both of New Orleans, Louisiana, were sentenced (Beaulieu, Venson) in federal court after pleading guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to steal government funds and wire fraud involving elderly individuals’ Road Home grants. Beaulieu was sentenced to thirty (30) months imprisonment and Venson was sentenced to eighteen (18) months imprisonment. Both defendants were ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and serve three (3) years of supervised release following imprisonment, during which time they will be under federal supervision and risk additional imprisonment should they violate any terms of the supervised release.

According to the court documents, Beaulieu and Venson admitted that in the summer of 2007, while Beaulieu was employed in the Closing Department of the First American Title Company, they conspired with Willie Smith to target elderly Road Home grantees. Beaulieu would alter the documentation so that the funds would be wired into his co-defendants’ personal bank accounts at ASI Credit Union. In an effort to keep the fraudulently wired money in their possession, the defendants would call their bank, ASI Credit Union, and pose as relatives of the elderly individuals.

In each of the five instances of attempted theft and wire fraud, the bank routing instructions on Road Home grantees’ closing documentation prepared at First American Title Insurance Company was altered such that the grantees’ Road Home money would be wired into the personal bank accounts of Venson or Smith. In an effort to keep the fraudulently wired money in their possession the conspirators would call their bank, ASI Credit Union, and pose as relatives of the elderly individuals. Beaulieu worked in the closing department of First American Title Insurance Company and targeted the individuals for the scheme because they were elderly.

Co-defendant Smith pled guilty on December 17, 2009 and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 10, 2010.

The case was investigated by agents with Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General, Social Security Administration-OIG, and Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Emily Greenfield and Julia Evans.

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