Catherine A. Hickling, Savannah, Georgia, pleaded guilty on June 1, 2009, to wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme. Hickling faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, Hickling was charged with wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. The Indictment arose out of a joint federal and state investigation into an alleged mortgage fraud scheme. The indictment alleges that from October, 2004 through May of 2008, Hickling defrauded several mortgage funding companies by submitting false loan applications, fabricated bank statements and other documents. The indictment alleges that Hickling obtained more than $1 million in mortgage loans and loan approvals during the scheme.
In commenting on the prosecution, Edmund A. Booth, Jr., United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia stated “The United States Attorney’s Office, together with federal and state investigative agencies, will vigorously investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud in our area.”
According to Booth, Hickling, who was arrested on December 16, 2008, is being detained at the Chatham County Jail on state and federal charges. An initial appearance on the federal charges has not yet been scheduled. Booth stressed that an indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The Defendant is entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Hickling will face a maximum statutory penalty of twenty (20) years imprisonment; a fine of $250,000; and, three (3) years of supervised release for each count.
Booth praised the investigation in this case by the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service. The Government is represented by Jim Durham, Assistant United States Attorney and Criminal Division Chief, for the Southern District of Georgia.