Maryland Man Pleads Guilty in Tax Lien Scheme That Led to Loss of Victim’s Northwest Washington Home
WASHINGTON—Emmette Brown, 42, of Glenn Dale, Md., pled guilty today to a federal mail fraud charge stemming from a scheme in which he was able to take control of a home in Northwest Washington and sell it, making a profit of more than $178,000 for himself, all without the knowledge of the original owner who was overseas caring for his seriously ill mother.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Brown pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Honorable Beryl A. Howell scheduled sentencing for Oct. 31, 2014. Brown faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a likely range of 15 to 21 months in prison and a fine of up to $40,000. As part of the plea, Brown has agreed to pay $178,038 in restitution to the victim. He also is subject to forfeiture proceedings.
According to the government’s evidence, the victim owned a house in the 3800 block of T Street NW. In June 2005, he traveled to Russia to take care of his seriously ill mother. The victim intended to return to Washington, D.C., and had purchased a return airline ticket. However, his mother’s condition worsened and he remained abroad until her passing in early 2009. When the victim returned to the United States, he found his home gutted and that he no longer had legal control of the home.
While he was away, the victim had not paid his District of Columbia property taxes or his federal income taxes. In 2006, unbeknownst to the victim, the property went to a District of Columbia tax lien sale. The tax lien was sold to a company for just over $10,000 and the property went to foreclosure. Brown then began a series of actions, using false claims, power of attorney forms, where he forged the victim’s signature, and documents that enabled him to begin acting on behalf of the victim. Brown eventually sold the property for $465,000 and made approximately $277,000 in payments to pay off the victim’s taxes and liens. Brown paid off these liens in order to complete his theft of the victim’s home.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge Parlave, and Chief Lanier commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and MPD. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Donna Galindo; Intelligence Specialist Sharon Johnson, Forensic Accountant Maria Boodoo and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Arvind K. Lal and Zia Faruqui, of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Selden, who is prosecuting the case.