Five defendants were sentenced in January 2015, for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme involving straw buyers, kickbacks and bank bribery. Of the 91 individuals charged in Operation Wax House, eighty-nine defendants have either pleaded guilty or have been convicted following trial. The two remaining defendants are international fugitives.
These convictions are the latest in Operation Wax House, an investigation which began in 2007.
The defendants include:
Matthew Newland, 41, Iowa, was sentenced on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, by Senior U.S. District Judge Graham C. Mullen to serve 13 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release on federal racketeering charges. According to court records, Newland operated as a promoter in the conspiracy and received more than $400,000 in kickbacks for his role. Newland also served as a seller in one transaction, letting approximately $240,000 in kickbacks be paid out of the loan proceeds to his co-conspirators. Newland pled guilty to RICO conspiracy to commit bank fraud in June 2013.
On January 27, 2015, Lorie Dooley, 50, Charlotte, N.C., was sentenced to 46 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Dooley was also a promoter in the enterprise’s mortgage fraud operations and received approximately $25,000 in kickbacks for her role. In addition to the mortgage fraud, Dooley engaged in a bank bribery scheme, in which she received $63,000 from a co-conspirator and paid a bank employee $55,000 to provide a bogus letter of credit. Also, when Dooley learned that the bank employee had pleaded guilty, Dooley obstructed justice, attempting to threaten and intimidate that employee. Dooley pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy in January 2014. She has been in custody since her arrest on these charges in May 2013.
On January 20, 2015, Travis Bumpers, 38, Charlotte, was sentenced to 66 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Bumpers was a promoter in both the enterprise’s mortgage fraud and investment fraud operations. Bumpers engaged in multiple mortgage fraud transactions, arranging for a straw buyer, providing down payment money, and receiving more than $800,000 in kickback money through a sham corporation. Bumpers also engaged in extensive investment fraud, defrauding approximately 70 victims out of more than $4.6 million. Bumpers pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy to commit securities fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy in March 2013. He has been in custody since his arrest on these charges in November 2012.
On January 8, 2015, Ralph Johnson, 37, Charlotte, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Johnson was a promoter in the enterprise’s mortgage fraud operations, helping arrange multiple fraudulent transactions and provide straw buyers in exchange for approximately $360,000 in kickbacks. Johnson pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy in June 2013. He has been in custody since his arrest on these charges in April 2013.
Also on January 8, 2015, Benjamin Clarke, 41, Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to an eight month split sentence, followed by two years of supervised release. Clarke served the enterprise as a buyer for two properties purchased as part of its mortgage fraud operations and received approximately $200,000 in kickbacks. Clarke pleaded guilty to bank fraud in June 2013.
Of the 26 six defendants charged in this indictment, 18 await sentencing, including three of the scheme’s leaders.
The fourth leader, Ramin Amini, 46, last known address Tehran, Iran, is one of two international fugitives.
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina announced the sentences.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office was joined in making the announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, Thomas J. Holloman III, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI).
Operation Wax House in the Western District of North Carolina is being handled by the Charlotte Division of the FBI and the Criminal Division of the IRS for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, along with the Securities Division of the North Carolina Secretary of State with respect to a separate prosecution. The Operation Wax House prosecution is being handled for the government by Assistant United States Attorney Maria K. Vento.