Herschell Harvell, Jr., 53, Conyers, Georgia, made his initial appearance in federal court on charges of making false statements to a bank to obtain a mortgage loan and conspiring to obstruct an investigation into his real estate transactions by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG).
Until he was terminated in 2013, Harvell was the Special Agent in Charge of HUD-OIG’s Atlanta office, which encompasses several southeastern states. Harvell’s co-defendant and nephew, Tavus A. Wright, 32, Milledgeville, Georgia, also made his initial appearance on federal charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury.
According to the Indictment, and other information presented in court: Between 2007 and 2012, Harvell served as a supervisory Special Agent in several HUD-OIG offices, including as a Special Agent in Charge in Fort Worth and Atlanta. Harvell also owned residential homes in the Atlanta area as investment properties. During 2007 and 2008, he acquired and refinanced several more homes with mortgage loans. In addition, in January and February 2008, Harvell purchased a Precision Tune automobile care franchise, incurring significant expenses in connection with that purchase.
On March 25, 2008, Harvell refinanced one of his rental homes and received over $23,000 in cash. Harvell’s loan application represented that he had a $70,000 certificate of deposit and that he received $6,180 in monthly rental income from six residential homes. The indictment alleges that these representations were false. It is alleged that Harvell had cashed in the certificate of deposit more than a month before, during the time period that he was purchasing the Precision Tune Franchise. In addition, it is alleged that Harvell’s houses were not rented or producing the rental income as stated on his loan application. For example, it is alleged that Harvell in fact received less than $900 in rent in March 2008 and for the year to date, had received less than $6,000 total in rental income.
The indictment alleges that during the course of the HUD-OIG investigation of the accuracy of Harvell’s loan application, Harvell’s nephew, Tavus Wright, provided false information to agents and perjured himself before the grand jury about whether he had signed a document used to demonstrate to Harvell’s lender that one of his houses was rented.
Harvell and Wright were indicted by a federal grand jury on February 25, 2014. Harvell and Wright are charged with one count of conspiring to obstruct justice under 18 U.S.C. § 371 and two counts of obstruction of justice under 18 U.S.C. § 1505. Wright also is charged with three counts of perjury under 18 U.S.C. § 1623. Harvell also is charged with two counts of making a false statement to a bank under 18 U.S.C. § 1014.
United States Attorney Yates announced the charges.
This case is being investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Special Investigations Division, Washington, DC.
Assistant United States Attorney Douglas W. Gilfillan is prosecuting the case.
“As a federal law enforcement officer, Harvell was entrusted with supervising mortgage fraud investigations,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “It is particularly troubling that someone responsible for investigating mortgage fraud is charged with committing it and with obstructing justice to cover up his crimes.”
“It is a regrettable day for the dedicated, hard-working men and women of our organization. We cannot tolerate or condone the abuse of trust and the violation of the very laws that Mr. Harvell was sworn to investigate and that is why I brought this matter to the attention of the U.S. Attorney,” said David A. Montoya, Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “I am profoundly disappointed at that break down of our former employee’s ethical and moral compass.”