Archives For Ohio

Mark F. Speakman, 60, Grove City, Ohio, was sentenced to 60 months in prison for an investment fraud scheme that defrauded his clients out of more than $1.1 million.

According to court documents, between 2000 and 2015, Speakman was a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial, and between 2002 and 2015 he defrauded his clients by misappropriating their funds.

Speakman persuaded his clients to remove their funds from their Ameriprise Financial accounts and invest them in Centrax, a fraudulent real estate investment trust. Rather than investing the funds in real estate, he stole the money. He took $870,000 from seven victims for the real estate scheme and used the money to pay his own expenses.

For example, Speakman persuaded one victim to move $125,000 outside of her normal Ameriprise account and invest instead in Centrax. He did not invest the funds in Centrax, but instead used them for his personal benefit. The victim later developed terminal cancer, and she detailed her physical decline in emails to Speakman and instructed him to write checks to an estate-planning attorney and to a “local crematorium and burial society” where she was pre-purchasing cremation services.

The dying victim told Speakman she counted on the Centrax trust to avoid placing a burden on her family members when she died and intended to use her Centrax investment in order to pay off the mortgage on her home.

Because the Centrax trust did not in fact exist, Speakman convinced the victim not to liquidate her purported Centrax investment and upon her death tried to convince the victim’s family to do the same. When he could no longer postpone their wishes to liquidate, he avoided communication with the family altogether.

As part of his scheme to defraud, Speakman stole from others to avoid detection by a client he had previously defrauded. In 2014, one of his clients who had previously agreed to invest in Centrax told Speakman that he wanted to cash out his investment. Speakman had already misappropriated those funds and had no way to pack back his client.

As a result, Speakman convinced another client and three of his family members to invest in gold coins. Speakman did not invest in gold coins and instead diverted the money in order to pay back the previous victim.

In total, Speakman received nearly $1.2 million from others in furtherance of his fraudulent scheme.

In addition, Speakman filed a false federal income tax return with the IRS for the 2014 income tax year on which he omitted $275,000 in income generated by his illegal conduct. The total tax loss to the IRS for 2002 through 2014 was approximately $300,000.

Speakman pleaded guilty in December 2016 to one count each of wire fraud, money laundering and filing a false federal income tax return with the IRS. As part of his plea, he agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution to the victims of his investment fraud scheme and approximately $300,000 in restitution to the IRS.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Frank S. Turner II, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office, and Grove City Police Chief Jeff Pearson announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge James L. Graham.

Mark Speakman committed a serious fraud that lasted more than a decade,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “He used his position as a financial advisor to take advantage of clients. Appallingly, he even lied about the final financial wishes of a client who was dying of cancer. The sentence he received today reflects the seriousness of his illegal actions.”

When you knowingly mix deceit and trickery into the financial well-being of individuals, you create a recipe for devastation that could last a lifetime,” said Frank S. Turner II, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates how the IRS, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Grove City Police Department banded together to help put an end to the criminal behavior of Mr. Speakman who preyed on investors for his own personal financial gain.”

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the IRS and the Grove City Police Department, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter K. Glenn-Applegate, who is prosecuting the case.

Kimberlee E. Himmell, 62, Massillon, Ohio, is alleged to have defrauded financial institutions out of more than $2 million by having escrow funds on home purchases deposited into her personal account.  Himmell was charged with 18 counts of bank fraud and one count of theft of government funds.

Himmell owned and operated Netwide Title Agency, Inc., located at 3711 Lincoln Way East, Massillon, Ohio. General Title Insurance Company, located in Cleveland, Ohio, was Netwide’s underwriter and responsible for auditing Netwide, according to the information.

Netwide, at the direction of Himmell, began in 2007 instructing all lenders doing business with Netwide as a title agency and utilizing its escrow services to wire all incoming lending proceeds to Himmell’s personal account, instead of Netwide’s corporate account, according to the criminal information filed in the case.

Himmell then used the deposited funds for her own personal use and for Netwide’s operational expenses without disclosing to lenders that she was not holding the funds in escrow, as she represented she would, according to the information.

Himmell closed at least 19 real estate transactions in 2013 and 2014 wherein Netwide received escrow funds and failed to pay or release the funds to the prior owner’s pre-existing mortgage. This causes financial losses to lenders and/or sellers of homes in Richmond Heights, North Canton, Willowick, Concord, Strongsville, Newbury, Brunswick, Wadsworth, Medina, Painesville, Parma, Akron, Twinsburg, Brecksville and Millersburg, Ohio according to the information.

Netwide’s underwriter, General Title, was contractually obligated to make lenders whole. The loss to General Title as a result of Himmell’s conduct was at least $2,111,014, according to the information.

The case was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark S. Bennett following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Jason J. Keating, 38, Toledo, Ohio, was sentenced to nine years in prison and Christopher J. Howder, 40, Perrysburg, Ohio, was sentenced to seven years in prison in after  stealing more than $1.1 million from hundreds of people through a fraudulent loan-modification scheme,

Keating was ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution while Howder was ordered to pay $561,000 in restitution.

Both pleaded guilty last year to charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and multiple counts of mail fraud and wire fraud.

Keating and Howder worked at Making Home Affordable USA (MHAUSA) from 120 10th Street, Toledo, Ohio where Keating was self-described president and Howder was the self-described underwriting manager.

According to court documents filed in the case:

The company used various names but homeowners were told MHAUSA had a very high rate of success and that customers could achieve modified interest rates as low as 2 percent.

Prospective participants were told there was a flat fee for service, generally between $495 and $795. Participants were told to stop making monthly mortgage payments to their lenders and instead to pay a percentage of their mortgage to MHAUSA.

Participants were told MHAUSA would hold these payments in a “stimulus reserve” account to demonstrate the participants could reliably make payments, and that once the loans were modified, the money would be turned over to the lenders.

The money obtained through the fraud was spent on concessions at professional sports venues, restaurants, cash withdrawals, gentlemen’s clubs, a tanning salon, a Las Vegas hotel, a jewelry store and a lingerie store.

These defendants took more than $1 million from people struggling to hold onto their homes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja for Ohio.

They used money obtained through fraud to pay for expensive restaurants and vacations,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office.

The investigating agency in this case is the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General. The case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Gene Crawford.

Timothy R. Bradley, 41, formerly of Toledo, Ohio, now of Cary, North Carolina; and Martha E. Ednie, 54, Toledo,  Ohio, were each sentenced to 30 months in prison for their roles in a $1.5 million conspiracy to defraud several banks.  Both defendants worked in the real estate business.

Bradley was previously found guilty of one count commit bank fraud and 11 counts of bank fraud. Ednie was previously found guilty of one count commit bank fraud and 20 counts of bank fraud.

Bradley worked as a real estate agent working for various brokerages in the Toledo, Ohio area, while Ednie was a mortgage broker who operated Apex Mortgage Company. Bradley and Ednie conspired with others, beginning in 2005, to obtain fraudulent mortgage loans by concealing the true purchase price of the underlying properties from banks making the loans, according to court documents.

The true purchase price was represented by an “addendum” to the real estate contract, which lowered the purchase price. These addendums were signed near the time of closing and were concealed from the lenders. Unbeknownst to the lenders, they were loaning the home purchasers between 82 percent and 135 percent of each home’s value based on the adjusted addendum purchase price, according to court documents.

Bradley was listed as the real estate agent on the contracts and Ednie secured financing in her role as mortgage broker. Bradley and others attracted buyers to the scheme by advertising the properties as good sources of rental income and assuring cash back at closing, according to court documents.

Carole S. Rendon, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Kathy Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigations made the announcement.  The investigating agency in the case is the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Toledo.  The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Gene Crawford.

Angelo Alleca, 46, Buffalo, New York, and Mark Morrow, 54, Cincinnati, Ohio, were arraigned on charges of orchestrating a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme.  The Defendants marketed several funds that were supposed to invest in certain assets/investments, such as hedge funds managed by a professional money manager of mortgage debt.  According to the new indictment, they instead used the money to pay redemptions to earlier investors, to acquire and operate several businesses, and to pay personal expenses.

According to U.S. Attorney John Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: From on or about 2004 until 2012,  Alleca acted as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Summit Wealth Management, an investment adviser headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. During that time, Alleca started several funds and falsely misrepresented that money would be invested in hedge funds and debt securities and managed by professional investment managers. Continue Reading…

Sharrock denied shortened prison sentence

A federal judge has rejected David R. Sharrock’s request to overturn or shorten his 135-month sentence for mortgage fraud, concealment of property and fraudulent transfer in a bankruptcy.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald C. Nugent issued a ruling saying he believes testimony given during a July 28 hearing in Cleveland where Sharrock’s attorney, James McDonnell, told the court the 73-year-old inmate never asked him to file an appeal after he plea no contest in September 2013.

The Ohio Attorney General brought a lawsuit against the operators of a California-based loan modification scheme accused of taking thousands of dollars from Ohioans while falsely promising to help them avoid foreclosure.

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Constance Kanary, 52, Toledo, Ohio, is the subject of a two-count indictment charging her with participating a fraudulent home loan modification conspiracy.

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Brenda Ashcraft, 45, Milford, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to defrauding investors of at least $15 million between 2009 and 2013 in a fraudulent investment scheme to purchase and sell real estate through real estate investment trusts (REITs).

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Damone Tyson, 49, Cleveland, Ohio, was indicted on bank fraud charges related to the fraudulent purchase of a Richfield, Ohio, home for nearly $1.2 million.

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