Former Roanoke Woman Indicted on Fraud Charges
LYNCHBURG, VA—The former majority owner of Genesis Mansions has been charged by a federal grand jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke on a variety of fraud charges associated with an alleged mortgage fraud scheme centered around properties on Smith Mountain Lake.
The grand jury has charged Susanne Helbig, 49, a former resident of Roanoke, Virginia, currently residing in Georgia, with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, seven counts of bank fraud, six counts of making false statements in connection with a loan and one count of making a false statement on a tax return.
According to the indictment, between March 2006 and December 2007, Helbig and others conspired to defraud financial institutions through the submission of false and fraudulent mortgage loan applications and settlement statements in the name of strawbuyers, inducing the financial institutions to finance the purchase and construction of approximately 30 properties located near Smith Mountain Lake. These actions caused losses of approximately $11 million.
It is alleged that Helbig and others who were supposed to use the proceeds of the loans for the construction of residential properties, instead kept this money as “profits” or used the money to pay other debts. In order to further the scheme, Helbig and others allegedly failed to disclose to lending institutions the true sales price of the properties, misrepresented the strawbuyer’s income or assets, misrepresented the strawbuyer’s employment, misrepresented that the home would be the strawbuyer’s primary residence when, in fact, the strawbuyer had no intention of living there, misrepresented the true source of “gift funds” provided to the strawbuyer for closing, and/or provided false or forged documents.
If convicted, Helbig faces a maximum possible penalty of up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1 million for the conspiracy count and each of the bank fraud and false statements in connection with a loan counts. On the making a false statement on a tax return count, the defendant faces a maximum possible penalty of up to three years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
The investigation of the case was conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney Laura Day Rottenborn will prosecute the case for the United States.
A grand jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.