Defendants Sentenced in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
DALLAS—Four Dallas-area individuals, along with a defendant from Georgia, who were convicted for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused more than $3 million in losses to lenders, have been sentenced, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
On Friday, August 15, Jarrod Jamiel Williams, 35, most recently of McKinney, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn to 87 months in federal prison and ordered to pay approximately $3.6 million in restitution. He pleaded guilty in January 2014 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution.
Williams has been in custody since June 2012 on charges stemming from a foreclosure-rescue scheme that was prosecuted in the Eastern District of Texas and for which he was sentenced to 57 months’ imprisonment. Judge Lynn ordered that 27 months of Williams’s sentence in the Dallas case would run concurrently with the Eastern District of Texas sentence with the remaining 60 months to run consecutively. It total, between the two different fraud schemes, Williams will serve 117 months in federal custody and was ordered to pay more than $5 million in restitution.
Other defendants convicted and sentenced for their role in the scheme include Christopher Davis Allen, 42, and his ex-wife, Cheryl Renee Allen, 51, who were each sentenced in June 2014 to 42 months in federal prison and ordered to pay approximately $3.6 million in restitution. Arzonda Murchison, 43, was sentenced in March 2014 to 36 months in federal prison and ordered to pay approximately $2.8 million in restitution. Aaron Robert Martell, of Georgia, was sentenced in May 2014 to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to pay approximately $1.3 million in restitution. Each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution.
From March 2006 to at least February 2008, Williams, a real estate investor who owned Jade Capital Group, along with escrow officers/loan processors/notaries Christopher and Cheryl Allen, title company owner, Murchison, and recruiter, Martell, engaged in the fraud scheme by facilitating fraudulent property transactions to obtain mortgage loans for residential real estate properties.
Part of the defendants’ scheme involved submitting false and fraudulent statements on loan applications and other closing documents to obtain proceeds from the transactions and making more false statements and material omissions regarding the disbursement of monies.
Williams recruited, or caused others to recruit, straw buyers to purchase the properties, knowing the purchasers buying the properties could not quality for the loans without making false statements on loan applications and other closing documents. Williams also knew that payments were made to straw buyers outside of closing.
As an example of the mortgage fraud scheme, Williams and Martel recruited an individual to purchase a residential property located on Dartmouth Avenue in Highland Park, Texas, knowing that the individual could not qualify for the necessary loans without making false statements concerning income, assets and intention to occupy the property. Williams referred the individual to Cheryl Allen who prepared the fraudulent loan applications. Chris Allen notarized the documents and assisted in the closing of the transaction, which occurred at Viewpoint Title, a company owned and operated by Murchison. Not only were the loan applications false, the closing documents falsely represented that the borrower made a $270,000 down payment when, in fact, that money was supplied by Williams. In addition, Williams, along with coconspirators, created a fraudulent check that purported to show the down payment coming directly from the borrower. At closing, Williams received more than $800,000 from Viewpoint Title as proceeds from the transaction, which were disbursed among the coconspirators. Because of the false statements on the documents, the lender approved two interstate wire transfers of approximately $2.1 million and $270,000 to fund the mortgage for the individual.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The 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 about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.
The FBI investigated the case. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office received assistance from the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board in connection with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Nicholas Bunch prosecuted.