Wednesday, January 8, 2014
HONOLULU - Jennifer McTigue, age 46, and Sakara Blackwell, a/k/a: Dawn Sakaguchi, age 38, both of Honolulu, were arraigned today in United States District Court after a federal grand jury returned a forty-five (45) count indictment against them and Marc Melton, age 43, for fraud, money laundering and other offenses relating to a debt elimination scheme to defraud lending institutions, buyers of real property and escrow companies through a process of filing fraudulent mortgage release documents with the Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances. Both defendants pled not guilty. The indictment was returned on January 3, 2014, and was unsealed upon the arrests of McTigue, Melton, and Blackwell today.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to the indictment, McTigue, Melton and Blackwell operated a scheme which involved filing fraudulent “satisfaction of mortgage” forms with the State of Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances which caused lending institutions holding the mortgages not to be paid on the outstanding debts when the defendants sold the properties, resulting in substantial profits. The debt elimination scheme resulted in the defrauding of not only mortgage lenders, but also innocent buyers who unwittingly bought properties subject to the fraudulently released mortgages.
The Indictment describes transactions involving seven specific properties and alleges that McTigue, Melton and Blackwell fraudulently obtained the releases of over $4.5 million in mortgages or other financial liens against those properties. The indictment alleges that the defendants then sold the properties for prices totaling over $3.3 million.
The defendants are charged with 27 counts of mail or wire fraud each of which carry maximum penalties of 30 years imprisonment and a fines of $1,000,000. McTigue, Melton, and Blackwell are respectively charged with seven, five, and four counts of money laundering, i.e., engaging in monetary transactions of a value greater than $10,000 in criminally derived property, each of which carry maximum penalties of ten years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. All three defendants are charged with conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiring to launder funds derived from mail and wire fraud. The maximum penalties for the conspiracies are five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, for the former and ten years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the latter. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of property derived from proceeds of the mail and wire fraud, as well as property involved in the money laundering offenses.
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. United States Magistrate Judge Barry M. Kurren set a trial date of March 11, 2014, before Senior United States District Judge Helen Gillmor.
The prosecution resulted from an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson is handling the prosecution.