Archives For Georgia

Nathan E. Hardwick IV, 50, formerly of Atlanta, Georgia, and Asha R. Maurya, 40, Atlanta, Georgia, were indicted on charges of with conspiracy, wire fraud, and related crimes in connection with Hardwick’s alleged theft of over $20 million from the attorney escrow accounts and operating accounts of Morris Hardwick Schneider and LandCastle Title, an Atlanta-based law firm and title agency in which Hardwick and Maurya once served as top executives.  In addition to charges against Maurya for assisting with Hardwick’s theft, the indictment also charges Maurya with stealing approximately $900,000 from the firm’s accounts to pay her own personal expenses. Continue Reading…

Angelo Alleca, 46, Buffalo, New York, and Mark Morrow, 54, Cincinnati, Ohio, were arraigned on charges of orchestrating a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme.  The Defendants marketed several funds that were supposed to invest in certain assets/investments, such as hedge funds managed by a professional money manager of mortgage debt.  According to the new indictment, they instead used the money to pay redemptions to earlier investors, to acquire and operate several businesses, and to pay personal expenses.

According to U.S. Attorney John Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: From on or about 2004 until 2012,  Alleca acted as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Summit Wealth Management, an investment adviser headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. During that time, Alleca started several funds and falsely misrepresented that money would be invested in hedge funds and debt securities and managed by professional investment managers. Continue Reading…

ChieduGeorge” Chukwuka , 47, Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced to serve nine years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,868,243.80 in connection with his lead role in a mortgage fraud ring that spanned five years and caused millions in losses.  Chukwuka, along with his co-defendants and other co-conspirators, engaged in a massive property-flipping scheme resulting in over $5.8 million in actual losses to financial institutions between 2006 and 2011. Chukwuka pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on August 10, 2015.

“At the height of the recent mortgage-fraud crisis, this property-flipping scheme caused scores of homes to fall into foreclosure, costing financial institutions millions of dollars in losses,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn.  “Many communities in our district have been decimated by mortgage fraud during the last 15 years and even now struggle to recover from the effects of these schemes.”

According to U.S.A. Horn, the charges and other information presented in court:  Chukwuka, along with his co-defendants and co-conspirators, recruited straw buyers to purchase homes at a discounted price, typically a bank-owned or distressed property.  The group then recruited a second straw buyer to purchase the same home at a dramatically inflated price. In turn, Chukwuka, his co-defendants and co-conspirators applied for an acquisition loan for the second straw buyer, supporting the loan application with false income, fake employment, and fraudulent net worth data.

The group profited from their scheme by pocketing the acquisition loan proceeds paid by the victim bank to the straw seller (who was the straw purchaser in the first transaction). The amount of profit was the difference between the price paid by the straw purchaser in the first transaction and the price paid by the straw purchaser in the second transaction, less transaction costs.  Since none of the straw purchasers made any significant loan payments, the targeted properties usually went into foreclosure, resulting in over $5.8 million in actual losses to financial institutions between 2006 and 2011.

The sentencing of Mr. Chukwuka brings to a close a lengthy investigation and prosecution of a criminal enterprise that targeted the banking industry through their prolific mortgage fraud schemes.  Mr. Chukwuka, considered by law enforcement and prosecution to be head of this enterprise, caused extensive damage with high loss amounts to those victim banks involved.  The FBI is pleased with the role it played in bringing about this sentencing to federal prison of Mr. Chukwuka as well as the previous sentencings of his co-defendants in this matter,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

The following five defendants also pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme, and were previously sentenced as follows:

  • Shelly Gee, a/k/a Shelly Baker, 48, Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced on November 10, 2015, to one year, six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,243,909.99. Gee pled guilty on June 17, 2015.
  • Sandra Petgrave, 43, Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced on December 4, 2015, to one year, six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,051,970.77. Petgrave pled guilty on August 18, 2015.
  • Kennedy Simmonds, 54, Snellville, Georgia, was sentenced on December 17, 2015, to three years, ten months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,868,243.80. Simmonds pled guilty on July 6, 2015.
  • Marcelle Welch, 37, Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced on December 17, 2015, to two years, three months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,554,189.25. Welch pled guilty on July 29, 2015.
  • Leah Freeman, 43, Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced on December 17, 2015, to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,828.532.94. Freeman pled guilty on June 19, 2015.

The defendants were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.

In a related case, Chinedum Oli, 42, Snellville, Georgia, was sentenced on February 19, 2013, by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Marvin H. Shoob to five years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,373,281.63. Oli pled guilty on October 9, 2012.

The cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jamie L. Mickelson and Steven D. Grimberg prosecuted the cases.

 

Gary Patton Hall Jr., 49, Tifton, Georgia, the former president and Chief Executive Officer of Tifton Banking Company (from August 2005 to June 2010) pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States in connection with his role in a bank fraud scheme in which he hid underperforming and at-risk loans from the bank and the FDIC.

According to facts stipulated in the plea agreement, while president and Chief Executive Officer of TBC, Mr. Hall was engaged in an ongoing scheme to mislead the bank and its loan committee about loans TBC made to local individuals and businesses.   As part of the scheme, Mr. Hall hid past due loans from the FDIC and the TBC loan committee, which resulted in the bank continuing to approve and renew delinquent loans and loans for which the collateral was lacking.   Several of the borrowers eventually defaulted on the loans, resulting in millions of dollars in losses to TBC and others. Continue Reading…

Following a three and a half week jury trial in Albany, Georgia, Elbert Walker, Jr. a/k/a “Shula”, Cairo, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit arson and mail, wire, bank and bankruptcy fraud and false declarations to a court as well as several firearms offenses.  Darryl Burk, Cairo, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  Shirley Burk, Cairo, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to commit arson, mail fraud and false declarations to a court.  The jury deliberated just over one day before returning the verdicts.  Senior United States District Court Judge W. Louis Sands presided over the trial.  Continue Reading…

Trent Gaines, a Georgia real estate investor, pleaded guilty for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Georgia.  Gaines admitted that he and others conspired not to bid against one another at public real estate foreclosure auctions from October 2008 to November 2010 in Fulton County, Georgia, and from September 2006 to February 2011 in DeKalb County, Georgia. Gaines also admitted to conspiring with others to use the mail to carry out a scheme to fraudulently acquire title to selected Fulton and DeKalb properties sold at public auctions, to make and receive payoffs and to divert money to co-conspirators that should have gone to mortgage holders and others. The selected properties were then awarded to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in private side auctions open only to Gaines and his co-conspirators. Continue Reading…

A Georgia real estate investor pleaded guilty today for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Fulton and DeKalb counties, Georgia.

Morris Podber, a Georgia real estate investor, pleaded guilty for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Fulton and DeKalb counties, Georgia. Podber admitted that he conspired with others not to bid against one another at public real estate foreclosure auctions on selected properties. After the public foreclosure auctions, Podber admitted that he and his co-conspirators would divvy up the targeted properties in private side auctions, open only to the conspirators. Podber admitted to conspiring to use the mail to carry out their fraud, which included making and receiving payoffs and diverting money to co-conspirators that should have gone to the mortgage holders and others. Continue Reading…

James Thomas, 44, of Villa Rica, Georgia, was arraigned on federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering arising from an alleged advance fee fraud scheme involving $1.7 million.  Thomas was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 15, 2015.  

According to the U.S. Attorney, the charges, and other information presented in court: Between 2008 and 2011, Thomas portrayed his firm, Trilateral Capital and Development LLC (“Trilateral”), as a reputable and well established private equity company that had successfully loaned millions of dollars for real estate development projects. Trilateral’s website and marketing materials contained fraudulent misrepresentations about the firm’s past real estate deals.  Thomas also misrepresented Trilateral’s finances and on least one occasion e-mailed a fraudulent bank statement purporting to show that Trilateral had over $1.6 million in one account.    Continue Reading…

Charles Wooden, 48, Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced to seven years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and to pay restitution of $2.4 million. Hendrickx H. Toussaint, 44, a now disbarred lawyer, Decatur, Georgia, was sentenced to three years, ten months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and to pay restitution of $1.2 million.  The sentenced arise out of a real estate-based Ponzi scheme that took in almost $5 million dollars from out-of-state and foreign investors.

According to U.S. Attorney John Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: In or about 2009, Charles Wooden, doing business as Aeon Capital Management, LLC, held himself out to the public as a real estate broker who could locate and oversee the purchase of residential properties and apartment buildings for or on behalf of real estate investors.  Wooden purported to find properties that could be flipped in a short period for a profit, and also properties that he would manage for the investors.  Continue Reading…

David Wedean, a Georgia real estate investor, pleaded guilty for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Georgia.

Continue Reading…