Joseph Matthews Merenda, 67, Brookline, Massachusetts, Walter Leon Gormley, 62, Walpole, Massachusetts, Darrell Lee Solomon, 48, Oklahoma City, and Betty Gale Solomon (a/k/a Gale Hall), 74, Oklahoma City, were indicted and charged with conspiracy and wire fraud arising out of a commercial loan fraud scheme. Criminal forfeiture of over $1.2 million is sought. Betty Solomon and Darrell Solomon have also been charged with money laundering.
According to the indictment, all four defendants were executives of purported loan brokerage firms – North American Commercial Holdings, LLC (NACH), a Maryland company, and North American Commercial, Inc. (NAC), an Oklahoma corporation. Darrell Solomon and his mother, Betty Solomon, were also executives of Worldwide Commercial Funding, Inc. (WCF) and its successor Orion International, Inc. (OI), both Oklahoma corporations, which operated as the purported exclusive loan facilitator for NACH/NAC.
The indictment alleges that the four defendants conspired to defraud commercial loan borrowers under a “Two Tier Lending Program” which worked as follows: NACH/NAC purported to offer commercial lending to borrowers who could not obtain financing for their projects through traditional financing means. Betty Solomon and Darrell Solomon, through WCF/OI, served as the exclusive loan originators and recruited borrowers to pay advance loan fees to WCF/OI as purported finders’ fees and as application processing fees for obtaining the loans. Thereafter, it is alleged that NACH/NAC required borrowers to pay additional advance loan fees as earnest money for the purported lending and promised to refund those fees if the loans were not consummated. The indictment also alleges that the defendants transmitted lulling communications to borrowers misrepresenting that funding of the loans was imminent thereby delaying discovery of the scheme. In the end, it is alleged that the loans were never funded, no refunds were paid, the advance loan fees paid to WCF/OI went to the personal benefit of Betty Solomon and Darrell Solomon, and the advance loan fees paid to NACH/NAC went to the personal benefit of Merenda and Gormley.
Between 2003 and 2005, it is alleged that eighteen borrowers paid over $630,000.00 in advance loan fees to WCF or OI, and over $500,000.00 in advance loan fees to NACH or NAC. Defendants set up various bank accounts for the purpose of receiving advance fees from borrowers.
Each of the four defendants each face up to thirty years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on wire fraud counts, up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the conspiracy charge, and criminal forfeiture of $1,210,735, representing the amount of cash proceeds obtained as a result of the offenses charged. Betty Solomon and Darrell Solomon also face up to ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on money laundering counts.
The public is reminded that the indictment is merely an accusation and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Reference is made to the indictment for further information.
John C. Richter, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma made the announcement. These charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandy Coats.