Illinois Lawyer and Internet Radio Talk Show Host Convicted in $9.7 Million Mortgage Fraud Schemes
CHICAGO—An Illinois lawyer and Internet radio talk show host was convicted today on federal charges for engaging in two mortgage fraud schemes that defrauded lenders of a total of approximately $9.7 million. The defendant, WARREN BALLENTINE, 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, 43, of Durham, N. Car., and formerly of Country Club Hills, owned the Law Office of Warren Ballentine, LLC, in Country Club Hills. He was found guilty of two counts of bank fraud, two counts of making false statements to lenders, and one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud by a jury that deliberated less than an hour total late yesterday and today following a trial that began Monday in U.S. District Court.
Ballentine remains free on bond pending sentencing, which was set for Jan. 21, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly. Ballentine faces a maximum penalty on each count of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine or an alternate fine of twice the gross gain or twice the loss, whichever is greater, and restitution is mandatory. Ballentine is also subject to forfeiture of more than $9.7 million. The Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
According to the evidence, 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 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.
The guilty verdict was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Antonio Gómez, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Yonan and Andrew S. Boutros.