Archives For false lien releases

Tammy Jones, a/k/a “Tammy Taylor, 53, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to her guilty plea, in May 2011 Jones purchased a home in Brandywine, Maryland.  To finance the purchase of the home, Jones obtained a mortgage for $360,660 from Lender 1, which was backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

In 2017, Jones sought and received a loan modification for her FHA-insured mortgage through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Partial Claim Program, which is a loan modification program for FHA-insured mortgages.  As part of the Partial Claim Program, HUD works to restructure the borrower’s mortgage payments using a partial claim which allows the borrower to stay in the home.  A lender files a “partial claim” with HUD for a portion of the outstanding mortgage balance and HUD makes payment to the lender on behalf of the borrower for that portion of the mortgage.  In exchange, HUD receives a security interest in the property in the amount of the balance that was paid to the lender and the borrower agrees to repay HUD for the amount of the partial claim.  Thus, the lender is effectively “made whole” by the partial claim payment from HUD.  When the borrower sells the home, the borrower is ultimately responsible for the balance of the partial claim to remove the lien held by HUD.

As stated in her plea agreement, in or around June 2017, Jones sought and received a loan modification through the HUD Partial Claim Program for her Brandywine, Maryland home.  HUD made a partial claim payment to Servicer 1 (who serviced Jones’s FHA-insured mortgage) of $111,377.12 on behalf of Jones.  In exchange, Jones granted HUD a security interest in the Brandywine, Maryland property for $111,377.12, the amount of the partial claim payment made by HUD.  Jones also entered into a loan modification agreement with the mortgage lender, in which Jones owed $352,151.01 in principal and agreed to make monthly payments of $2,564.96.

In 2018, Jones sought to sell the Brandywine, Maryland property for $429,900.  To close the sale of the property, employees of a settlement company sought proof that Jones’s lien from HUD and the FHA had been released.

In fact, the lien had not been released.  Jones thereafter created false and fraudulent documents to make it appear as though the lien had been released in order to facilitate the sale of the Brandywine, Maryland home as part of the scheme.

Specifically, Jones created a fraudulent email account, purporting to be an employee of a company contracted by HUD to service loans on HUD’s behalf.  Jones, posing as an employee of the HUD contractor, told an employee of the settlement company that the lien on the Brandywine, Maryland home had been released and Jones created and attached a bogus lien release document.  Jones thereafter continued to contact the settlement company while posing as an employee of the HUD contractor.  Jones also submitted a fraudulent Certificate of Satisfaction to the settlement company, which permitted the sale of the Brandywine, Maryland property on or about October 19, 2018.

After the sale of the Brandywine, Maryland property closed, the induvial who purchased the home from Jones was notified of the outstanding lien on the property in 2019.  Investigation revealed that Jones had falsified documents and fraudulently posed as an employee of the HUD contractor in order to further her scheme to defraud HUD.

In total, Jones caused a net loss of $111,377.12 to HUD, which represents the partial claim that HUD paid on behalf of Jones in September 2017.

As part of her plea agreement, Jones will be required to pay $111,377.12 in restitution.

Jones faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release for wire fraud.  U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for May 20, 2022 at 2:30 p.m.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Special Agent in Charge Bertrand Nelson of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HUD-OIG for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin R. Cottingham, who is prosecuting the case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

Christopher Grooms, 41, Savannah, Georgia pled guilty to an Information charging him with a scheme to enrich himself by repeatedly borrowing money against the same pieces of property will go to prison for fraud.

As described in court documents and testimony, Grooms operated several real estate investment companies that acquired and resold real estate. From 2013 to 2018, Grooms devised a scheme in which one of his companies would purchase a property using borrowed funds, and he would then falsify documents to show that the lien against the property had been satisfied. He would then secure additional loans against the property, repeatedly filing fraudulent paperwork to show the property was unencumbered by liens.

Grooms used the scheme at least 24 times for nearly $3 million in fraudulent loans from multiple financial institutions. The properties used in the scheme were located in Georgia cities including Savannah, Hinesville, Glennville, Midway and Allenhurst.

Grooms was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, ordered to pay $1,645,267.95 in restitution, and a forfeiture money judgment totaling $2,937,881.43, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. After completion of his prison term, Grooms must serve four years of supervised release.

There is no parole in the federal system.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG) is committed to holding accountable those who waste, steal, or abuse the resources of the government-sponsored enterprises regulated by FHFA.  We are proud to have partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia in this case,” said Edwin S. Bonano, Special Agent-in-Charge, FHFA-OIG, Southeast Region.

This sentence should serve as a stark reminder that such greed as seen in this case comes with a bigger cost,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI recognizes the impact on the banking institution and will continue to dedicate investigative resources to target fraud in its many forms.”

Financial fraud temporarily enriches criminals at the long-term expense of legitimate businesses,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “As Christopher Grooms discovered, our law enforcement partners are adept at rooting out these schemes, and his ill-conceived investment in criminal activity is returning a dividend of time behind bars.

Committing high-level fraud will not be tolerated in Georgia,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Director Vic Reynolds. “The GBI worked hard on this investigation with local and federal partners to bring this case to a successful prosecution.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General, the GBI, and the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara M. Lyons and Asset Recovery Unit Chief Xavier A. Cunningham.

 

Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 60, and Nancy Plunkett, 55, both of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a former Massachusetts attorney and his wife were indicted today in federal court in Boston in connection with various mortgage fraud schemes.

According to the indictment, until he was disbarred in October 2017, Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. owned and operated the Plunkett Law Firm where his wife, Nancy Plunkett, was his office assistant and paralegal.

The indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in several bank fraud schemes. In one scheme, from September 2012 to July 2016, the defendants defrauded six mortgage lenders and 14 homeowners for whom the Plunkett Law Firm handled the closings for new mortgage loans to refinance residential properties. The defendants informed the mortgage lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from the new loan proceeds when, in fact, the Plunketts intentionally failed to pay off the prior liens and instead converted more than $900,000 in payoff funds for their own purposes.

In other bank fraud schemes – between April 2015 and March 2018 – it is alleged that the Plunketts fraudulently used various names, entities and false documents to obtain three successive mortgage loans on their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts in amounts of $412,000, $470,000 and $1.2 million. The defendants pledged as collateral a property in Hyannis Port that was held in a family trust for which Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was one of three beneficiaries. Both defendants participated in providing false documents to the lenders, including false title reports and other records to falsely represent that the property was free and clear of existing mortgage liens and forged documents in the names of other people. The defendants also allegedly made misrepresentations to a lender that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman living in Wellesley who was purchasing the property in her maiden name as a business investment when, in fact, the defendants had been married since 2014 and the property was their residence.

Both were were indicted on five counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was also charged with one count of tax evasion.

The charge of bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of tax evasion provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory two-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

 

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A. Wild of Lelling’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.

David Tyrone Johnson, 48, Washington, D.C. was indicted on charges that he conspired to commit bank fraud and other crimes arising from a real estate scheme involving a forged mortgage satisfaction document.

Johnson was named in a six-count indictment that was returned on August 9, 2016. He is charged with federal violations of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, engaging in illegal monetary transactions, and making a false statement, as well as uttering, which is a District of Columbia offense.  The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds that can be traced to the fraud scheme. Johnson pled not guilty to the charges at his first court appearance.

According to the indictment, SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. loaned a friend of Johnson’s approximately $470,000 to purchase residential real estate in the 100 block of 57th Street SE in 2008.  By 2009, the friend had failed to repay the mortgage loans, and in 2010, SunTrust Mortgage filed a notice of foreclosure with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds. In April 2013, SunTrust Mortgage began the process of foreclosing on the mortgage and taking possession of the property, due to the friend’s failure to make good and timely payments on the mortgage loans.

The indictment alleges that sometime before October 2, 2013, Johnson caused the creation of two phony and forged certificates of satisfaction, which falsely represented that the SunTrust Mortgage loans at the property on 57th Street SE had been paid and that his friend owned the property “free and clear.”  The indictment also alleges that on October 2, 2013, Johnson filed these two phony certificates of satisfaction with the Recorder of Deeds.

In or about December 2013, after the fake certificates of satisfaction allowed the friend to sell the property without paying the outstanding mortgages, the title and escrow company wired out the sales proceeds of $337,105, of which approximately $170,688 was obtained by Johnson.

The indictment, which was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was announced by U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Assistant Director in Charge Abbate expressed appreciation for the work performed by those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also acknowledged the efforts of those working on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Paralegal Specialist Corinne Kleinman, Paralegal Specialist Kaitlyn Kruger, Litigation Tech Specialist Ron Royal, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Swanton, who is assisting with forfeiture issues. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham who is prosecuting the case.

Denise Bruce, 56, Hingham, Massachusetts was indicted on five counts of bank fraud for defrauding mortgage companies in connection with multiple mortgages she obtained on a single residence

According to the indictment, between 2004 and 2008, Bruce fraudulently obtained five mortgage loans from different banks in amounts ranging from $325,000 to $487,500 on her Hingham, Massachusetts, property by submitting false information regarding her employment history, income, assets, and debt.  The indictment also alleges that Bruce filed fraudulent discharges of mortgages with the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds to create the appearance that earlier loans had been paid in full, when in fact, none of the loans had been paid.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of $1 million on each count.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Steven Perez, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region; and Michael Rourke, Special Agent in Charge of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, Special Inspector General, New York Field Office, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A. Wild of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Jennifer McTigue, 48, Honolulu, Hawaii pled guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering, as well as committing wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. McTigue pled guilty in federal district court before Senior District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall a day after jury selection for her trial was to have commenced.

In connection with her guilty plea, McTigue, who is representing herself and identifies herself as a “private non-citizen American national” stated:

“I feel I must take responsibility for people being damaged and that’s why I’m here today to plead guilty.”

Documents filed by McTigue in the court case had caused the Judge to order that she undergo a competency evaluation.

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