Dana Q. Roush, 40, and her husband Michael “Bubba” Roush, 56, both of Greenville, South Carolina were sentenced to a total of seventeen years in federal prison and ordered to pay back more than $2.5 million after a jury found them guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and equity skimming.
Evidence presented at trial showed that Dana and Bubba Roush owned and operated Kingdom Connected Investments, LLC (“KCI”). They marketed their company as a Christian organization and promised to create “win-win” situations for home sellers and buyers. They sought homeowners who often owed more on their home than the property was worth, and buyers who lacked good credit and thus could not obtain a conventional mortgage.
KCI promised to relieve the homeowner from the burdens of mortgage payments by “buying” the home and placing a new buyer in the home who would rent-to-own. KCI promised to make all the sellers’ mortgage payments. KCI misled sellers to believe that they would be immediately removed from the property’s title and that they were no longer responsible for the original loan.
KCI promised the buyers an easy road to homeownership. In exchange for the down payment (typically ten percent of the purchase price), the buyers were told that they were renting-to-own and building up equity. KCI further concealed from the buyers that a third party – the seller – had an existing mortgage on the property that KCI was responsible for paying.
Rather than using the down payments and rents received from the buyers to pay the sellers’ mortgage payments, Bubba and Dana Roush used the money for personal expenses and to expand their real estate business.
The sellers, many of whom believed they were off the title and note, received foreclosure notices. They learned that KCI, despite having a renter in the home, had stopped paying on the mortgage. Buyers often learned they had no real ownership interest when the home was purchased by a third-party at a foreclosure sale and the new owner started eviction proceedings.
Victims of the scheme suffered myriad injuries including loss of money, shattered dreams, and ruined credit. Special Agent Matt Jacobson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) testified that KCI received $2.6 million from buyers and only paid $1.4 million in mortgage payments. Approximately 130 properties were involved in the scam and Agent Jacobson testified that in only two instances did a buyer actually become a homeowner and a seller not face foreclosure and ruined credit.
Mrs. Roush was sentenced to more than eleven years, while her husband was sentenced to six and a half years.
United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr., made the announcement.
“These defendants here stole more than money. They robbed their victims of the American dream,” said U.S. Attorney McCoy. “For so many South Carolinians, times are tough right now. That these two defendants exploited that difficulty to line their own pockets is reprehensible, and this office will not tolerate it. I appreciate the jury’s verdict and the sentence handed down by the judge. I am especially thankful for the hard work form our federal partners in this case.”
“The fraud perpetrated by the defendants allowed them to steal millions of dollars from people who could not afford to lose any money,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jody Norris. “The victims were robbed of their life savings, their homes, and the futures they had planned. The Special Agents from the FBI and the investigators from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) who brought these defendants to justice, should be commended for their dedication and demonstration of our resolve to fully investigate these fraudulent schemes in South Carolina.”
“The core of our mission is to protect the Department of Housing and Urban Development from those that would seek to defraud its programs for the sole purpose of enriching themselves at the government’s expense,” said Wyatt Achord, Special Agent in Charge, HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG). “We remain committed toward working with the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue any individual who attempts to defraud the government.”
United States District Judge Timothy M. Cain sentenced Mrs. Roush to 136 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. Judge Cain sentenced Mr. Roush to 78 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system. Judge Cain also ordered the defendants to pay $2,664,796.69 in restitution.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HUD OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Watkins