Debra Phillips, 50, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of Wire Fraud Conspiracy. Phillips pleaded guilty to one count before Chief United States District Judge Donetta Ambrose.
In connection with the guilty plea, Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway advised the court that Phillips, who is a licensed mortgage broker operating Equitable Lending, participated in a mortgage fraud conspiracy in which she submitted loan applications to lenders knowing that they contained false representations related to borrowers’ assets. Phillips also brokered loans in which borrowers concealed from the lenders that they were borrowing money to make the down payments for real estate purchases.
Judge Ambrose scheduled sentencing for September 18, 2009. The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
The Mortgage Fraud Task Force conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Phillips. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and others involved in the mortgage industry. Federal law enforcement agencies participating in the Mortgage Task Force include the United States Secret Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations; the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Other Mortgage Fraud Task Force members include the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office; the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Bureau of Consumer Protection; the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation; and the United States Trustee’s Office.
Mortgage industry members with knowledge of fraudulent activity are encouraged to call the Mortgage Fraud Task Force at (412) 894-7550. Consumers are encouraged to report suspected mortgage fraud by calling the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 441-2555.
United States Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan made the announcement.