Gregory Lashon Thomas, 42, Desoto Texas, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater to 189 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $2,094,000 in restitution, following his conviction at trial in September 2012 on various offenses related to a multimillion dollar mortgage fraud scheme he ran in the Dallas, Texas, area.
In addition, the Court ordered forfeiture in the amount of $218,148 and ordered that Thomas surrender to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons on February 5, 2013.
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, Thomas was convicted on all four counts of the indictment — one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and three counts of mail fraud. The two co-defendants, charged in the case, Aja D. Crawford, aka Aja Abercrombie, 35, Irving, Texas, and Ernest Ohenekitiwa McMillan, 42, Dallas, each pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, as charged in a superseding indictment. Each faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered. Crawford will be sentenced on January 11, 2013, and McMillan will be sentenced on February 8, 2013.
Thomas ran two real estate “investment” businesses called Investor Source and Myriad Investments. Thomas located sellers who wanted to unload excess properties and were willing to “kick back” substantially all of their proceeds to the defendant. Thomas then recruited straw buyers, including co-defendant McMillan, and worked with loan officers, including co-defendant Crawford, to prepare and submit fraudulent loan applications on the buyers’ behalf.
The loan applications contained numerous material false statements, such as overstating the buyer’s income level or assets. For instance, the evidence showed that one of the straw buyers, who had just been released from federal prison and was living in a halfway house and earning minimum wage, falsely represented on his loan application that he made nearly $100,000 per year and had an account with more than $34,000. That loan application also identified a Washington Mutual bank account that actually belonged to the defendant. Not only was the bank account controlled by the defendant, he and the loan officer altered a bank statement to make it appear as if the account was owned by the straw buyer.
Thomas received a substantial kickback from the seller after each of the transactions closed and then disbursed a portion of those kickbacks to the co-defendants and others involved in the fraud. Thomas also assisted the buyers in closing on the properties by obtaining cashier’s checks, in the buyer’s name, for the down payment on the properties.
The properties at issue in the indictment are three upscale town houses located off Ross Avenue, Dallas, Texas, just east of downtown. Two of the properties were located on Jensen Court, and the other was on Soho Lane. Evidence at sentencing showed that the scheme involved approximately $5 million in fraudulently-obtained loans and approximately $2 million in losses to various mortgage lenders.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
The announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Nicholas Bunch and Joseph Revesz prosecuted.