4 Plead Guilty to Selling Homes They Did Not Own

Allison Tussey —  February 20, 2013 — 3 Comments

Jamaul Roberts, 25, College Park, Maryland, Patricia Mantilla, 35, Lorton, Virginia, Melissa McWilliams, 35, Chantilly, Virginia, and Michael Brown, 41, Hyattsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to fraudulently taking over the titles of homes in Washington, D.C., without the real property owners’ knowledge, selling those homes, and keeping the profit.

According to court records, Roberts conspired with others to visit the D.C. tax courts to identify properties with overdue property tax bills. They would use sources such as Ancestry.com and the D.C. property tax database to locate vulnerable properties where they could take over a home’s title without the real owners’ knowledge. These homes included those left vacant, passed on to heirs after the owner’s death, or owned by the elderly in nursing homes who did not understand the transactions taking place.

The fraudulent sales were facilitated by two settlement agents, Mantilla and McWilliams who worked at Ace Title & Escrow, Annandale, Virginia. The agents knew the home sales were fraudulent and that the owners appearing at settlement were not the rightful owners. They also assisted the conspirators in hiding profits on the property sales from other parties involved in the sale through fictitious invoices to be paid at closing.

The conspirators, including Brown recruited straw sellers to sign documents and falsely represent themselves as the owners of the properties. Brown, for example, appointed himself the personal representative of the rightful owner of a property and prepared a fake death certificate for the owner, although the owner was still living. He attempted to sell the property to another member of the conspiracy for $350,000.

During the course of the scheme, numerous properties were fraudulently sold, resulting in more than $1 million in actual and intended losses.

Roberts and Brown pled guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when they are sentenced on May 10, 2013 and May 3, 2013, respectively.

Mantilla and McWilliams pled guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and face a maximum penalty of five years in prison when they are sentenced on April 26, 2013 and June 7, 2013.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the pleas were accepted by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney Chad Golder of the Office’s Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

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3 responses to 4 Plead Guilty to Selling Homes They Did Not Own

  1. Peter F. Culhane February 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    An employee of mine who has worked for me for the past 12 years is a victim of real estate mortgage fraud here in the City of Los Angeles. I am not the victim but the victim’s advocate who wishes to help my friend/employee with his situation. i would appreciate knowing where i can get help either through a governmental or a private or even a non-for-profit group who can work with us in bringing these perpetrators to justice.

  2. If you are still looking for help, just google the recent case of Kenneth Dipasquale. He committed a similar crime. There are many articles about how this was resolved. Good Luck

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