Federal Jury Convicts Real Estate Agent and Loan Processor on Racketeering Charges
Defendants Were Among 91 Defendants Charged in Operation Wax House
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 23, 2013|
CHARLOTTE, NC—Following a week-and-a-half-long trial, a federal jury today convicted a real estate agent and a loan processor on all charges relating to a $75 million racketeering conspiracy, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.
Today’s convictions are the latest in Operation Wax House, an investigation that began in 2007 and has netted 91 defendants to date, 80 of whom have pleaded guilty or have been convicted following a trial.
Nathan Shane Wolf, 42, of Charlotte, a licensed real estate agent in North Carolina, was convicted on all three charges against him in the indictment: racketeering conspiracy, bank fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.
Denetria Montresa Myles, 42, of Charlotte, a loan processor and licensed notary public in North Carolina, was also convicted of all charges against her in the indictment: racketeering conspiracy, and bank fraud.
The United States Attorney’s Office is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
The federal criminal trial began on Tuesday, October 15, 2013, before Senior U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen. According to evidence introduced at trial, the enterprise operated from about 2005 until 2012, when indictment was unsealed. The enterprise engaged in an extensive pattern of racketeering activities, which included investment or securities fraud, mortgage fraud in the form of wire fraud and bank fraud, and money laundering.
According to trial evidence, defendants Wolf and Myles were participants in the enterprise’s mortgage fraud operations, accounting together for over $13 million in fraudulently obtained loans.
Witnesses testified that Wolf arranged for builders of luxury real estate to pretend to sell such real estate at an inflated price—what Wolf called the “gross price”—in order to get an inflated mortgage loan from a bank.
In reality, the builders accepted the true, lower, price—what Wolf called the “strike price”—while Wolf arranged for the difference between the inflated price and the true price to be paid from the loan proceeds as kickbacks.
Such kickbacks were funneled through sham companies and disguised to look like payments for work actually done on the real estate.
The evidence established that the work was never done, but instead these kickbacks were payments to the buyers and promoters who helped bring the parties to the fraud together. According to the evidence at trial, the kickbacks generally ranged from approximately $50,000 to almost $600,000.
According to trial testimony, defendant Myles was a promoter for the enterprise, working with one of her co-conspirators also charged in the superseding indictment, Nazerre Saddig (currently a fugitive), to purchase a luxury home so that Myles could receive a $100,000 kickback disguised as a payment for “upgrade repairs” that were never done.
According to trial evidence, Myles also purchased one such home in her own name for a kickback of nearly $80,000, paid to a company in the name of her husband. In other transactions, Myles facilitated the identity theft of a victim whose name and credit information was used to buy two homes and obtain in excess of $1 million in loans by Myles falsely notarizing that the victim had signed the loan documents, when, in fact, the victim’s identity had been stolen and the victim never signed the documents nor appeared in front of Myles.
Following the jury’s convictions, both defendants consented to forfeiture in an amount to be determined and were released on bond pending the scheduling of their sentencing hearings. At sentencing, Wolf faces a maximum prison term of 70 years, and Myles faces a maximum prison term of 50 years. In determining their actual sentence, the Court will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide advisory sentencing ranges. Sentencing dates for the defendants have not been set yet.
Twenty-six defendants were charged in the case. Eleven defendants remain for trial, including two who are international fugitives. Each remaining defendant and his or her status are listed below.
- Ramin Amini, 45, of Tehran, Iran, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Leader and promoter in the scheme. Status: International fugitive.
- Frank DeSimone, 41, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: On bond; scheduled for trial in January 2014.
- Lori Dooley, 49, of Washington, D.C. is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and bank bribery. Role: Promoter. Status: Detained; scheduled for trial after January 2014.
- Toby Hunter, 38, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: On bond; scheduled for trial January 2014.
- Steven Jones, 45, of Waxhaw, is charged with securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, money laundering conspiracy, and racketeering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: On bond; scheduled for trial January 2014.
- Kurosh Mehr, 52, of Charlotte is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering. Role: Promoter and buyer. Status: On bond; scheduled for trial after January 2014.
- Ann Tyson Mitchell, 62, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and money laundering. Role: Facilitator. Status: On bond; scheduled for trial after January 2014.
- John Wayne Perry, Jr., 32, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: On bond; scheduled for trial after January 2014.
- Nazeere Saddig, 41, formerly of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy and mortgage fraud. Role: Promoter and buyer. Status: International fugitive.
- Carrie Tyson, 59, of Winterville, North Carolina, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering. Role: Leader and promoter. Status: Detained (bond review pending); scheduled for trial January 2014.
- James Tyson, Jr., 32, of Dakar, Senegal, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, bank bribery, and money laundering. Role: Leader and promoter. Status: Detained; scheduled for trial January 2014.
Operation Wax House in the Western District of North Carolina is being handled by the Charlotte Division of the FBI and the Criminal Division of the IRS for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, along with the Securities Division of the North Carolina Secretary of State. The United States Attorney’s Office also relied heavily on the expertise and assistance of the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. The Wolf and Myles prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Kurt W. Meyers and Maria K. Vento. Today’s announcement is part of an effort by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), created in November 2009, to combat financial fraud crimes by waging aggressive, coordinated, and proactive investigations and prosecutions. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys' offices, and state and local partners, the task force is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
The names and case numbers of the all the defendants charged to date in Operation Wax House are listed below, organized by their alleged role in the scheme.
Attorneys and Paralegals
Crawford/Mallard, Michelle 3:11cr374
Gates, Christine 3:09cr100
Norwood, Kelli, 3:09cr162
Rainer, Demetrius 3:08cr239/241
Smith, Troy, 3:08cr264
Brown, Jamilia, 3:10cr124
Eason, Danyelle, 3:10cr116
Henson, Vic. F., 3:10cr124
Jackson, Mitzi, 3:11cr374
Ramey, Bonnie Sue, 3:10cr124
Builders and Sellers
Fink, James, 3:11cr374
Jackson, Jennifer, 3:09cr241
Smith, Kelvis, 3:12cr238
Viegas, Jeffrey, 3:12cr298
Wittig, Mark, 3:12cr335
Wood, Gary, 3:09cr208
Facilitators and Financiers
Hickey, Denis, 3:09cr103
McClain, Landrick, 3:10cr124
Mitchell, Ann Tyson, 3:12cr239
Panayoton, Sherrill, 3:11cr176
Taylor, Alicia Renee, 3:10cr124
Wilson, Willard, 3:09cr161
Banks, Arketa, 3:12cr297
Clarke, Benjamin, 3:12cr239
Hillian, Kirk, 3:12cr83
Mathis, Charles, 3:10cr1
Mobley, Sarena, 3:10cr124
Moore, George, 3:12cr337
Richards, Dan, 3:10cr119
Smith, Kevin, 3:12cr341
Tyler, Glenna, 3:11cr200
Vaughn, Mary, 3:12cr329
Wallace, Jamaine, 3:12cr330
Wellington, William, 3:12cr333
Bradley, Bonnette, 3:12cr299
Clarke, Linda, 3:10cr120
Flood, Ericka, 3:10cr124
Goodson-Hudson, Crystal, 3:12cr339
Mahaney, Robert, 3:12cr340
Scagliarini, Coley, 3:11cr374
Staton, Walter, 3:10cr113
Vaughn, Danielle, 3:12cr329
Williams, Marcia, 3:12cr334
Williams, Sean, 3:12cr336
Woods, Joseph, 3:09cr178
Real Estate Agents
Belin, Chris, 3:11cr374
Clark, Christina, 3:09cr44
Lee, Shannon, 3:12cr338
Pasut, Holly Hardy, 3:12cr331
Wolf, Nathan Shane, 3:12cr239
Wood, Gary, 3:09cr208
Amini, Ramin, 3:12cr239
Barnes, Vonetta Tyson, 3:12cr239
Brown, William, 3:12cr239
Bumpers, Travis, 3:12cr239
Carr, Stephen, 3:10cr124
Clarke, Reuben, 3:10cr120
Coleman, Gregory, 3:10cr118
Desimone, Frank, 3:12cr239
Dooley, Lori, 3:12cr239
Hitchcock, Jimmy, 3:11cr374
Hubbard, Glynn, 3:12cr239
Hunt, Victoria, 3:12cr239
Hunter, Toby, 3:12cr239
Johnson, Ralph, 3:12cr239
Jones, Steven, 3:12cr239
Jones, Tyree, 3:10cr230
Marshall, Michael, 3:07cr283
McDowell, John, 3:12cr239
Willis, Anthony, 3:09cr218
Myles, Denetria, 3:12cr239
Darden, Clinton 3:10cr108