Straw Buyer Scheme Lands Fraudster in Jail

Allison Tussey —  July 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

Celia Thomas, 49, Dorchester, Massachusetts, was sentenced in federal court for mortgage fraud and theft of public funds.

The defendant was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William G. Young to 41 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $7,500 fine. The court also ordered Thomas to pay restitution in the amount of $535,676. On April 2, 2012, Thomas was convicted by a jury of multiple counts of wire and bank fraud and theft of public funds.

Thomas, a former Program Manager for the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, engaged in a long-running scheme to obtain multiple properties in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Milton, Massachusetts, by means of mortgage fraud, including the recruiting of straw purchasers and submission of false loan applications. After gaining control of properties in the names of others, Thomas rented the properties to Section 8 tenants and collected rents and federal subsidy payments while the mortgages went unpaid and the properties went into default. The court found the loss associated with her crimes to be over $500,000, including $67,000 in federal housing funds paid to Thomas as rent subsidies for a wholly fictitious landlord-tenant relationship at 10 Dix Street, Dorchester.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Cortez Richardson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lori J. Holik and James J. Fauci.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Young told Thomas, “You have done damage, lasting damage to these people whom you fleeced, and you have done damage to the community in which you live. Serious damage, as these buildings now stand abandoned and blighted, which affects the property values of your neighbors and friends. This is serious, serious misconduct, and we must come to grips with it.”

Allison Tussey

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