Suburban Chicago Lawyer Who Hosts National Radio Talk Show Indicted in $9.7 Million Mortgage Fraud Schemes
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 28, 2013|
CHICAGO—A suburban Chicago lawyer who hosts a national radio talk show was indicted on federal charges for allegedly engaging in two mortgage fraud schemes that defrauded lenders of a total of approximately $9.7 million. The defendant, Warren Ballentine, allegedly schemed with others to obtain more than two dozen fraudulent mortgage loans and represented buyers at multiple closings, knowing that they were fraudulently qualified for loans to purchase homes in Chicago and various southern suburbs.
Ballentine, 41, of Durham, North Carolina, and formerly of Country Club Hills, owns the Law Office of Warren Ballentine LLC in Country Club Hills. He was charged with two counts of bank fraud, two counts of making false statements to lenders, and one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud in a six-count indictment returned last Thursday by a federal grand jury. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of approximately $9,775,000 in alleged fraud proceeds.
Ballentine is scheduled to be arraigned at 9:30 a.m. on February 5 before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in Federal Court in Chicago.
The indictment was announced today by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Thomas P. Brady, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.
According to the indictment, between December 2004 and February 2005, Ballentine schemed with others to fraudulently cause various lenders to make at least eight loans totaling approximately $3.6 million by making false statements in loan documents, including applications, HUD-1 settlement statements, and occupancy statements concerning the buyers’ intention to occupy the homes they purchased as a primary residence. Ballentine then represented buyers recruited by others at real estate closings, knowing that they had signed and submitted false documents and had been fraudulently qualified to purchase the properties in Chicago, Monee, Woodridge, and Mokena.
Between February 2005 and May 2006, Ballentine allegedly engaged in a similar, separate scheme with others to fraudulently cause various lenders to make at least 20 loans totaling approximately $6.1 million by making false statements in mortgage documents, including the buyers’ intention to occupy the homes as a primary residence. Ballentine also represented these buyers at closings, knowing that they had been fraudulently qualified for the loans based on false documents, including some that Ballentine advised them to sign at closings. These homes were scattered throughout Chicago and other suburbs, including Country Club Hills, Richton Park, and Markham.
Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine or, as an alternative, the court may impose a fine of twice the gross gain or twice the loss, whichever is greater, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Yonan.
The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.