Boston...A Dorchester woman was convicted late yesterday by a federal jury of multiple counts of wire fraud, bank fraud and theft of public money.
Celia Thomas, 49, was convicted of mortgage fraud and the theft of public housing assistance money. She was convicted on all counts of an indictment which included three counts of wire Fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of theft of federal funds.
During the period 2003 through 2009, Thomas participated in a multi-stage mortgage fraud scheme, acquiring properties, including her residence at 10 Dix Street, Dorchester, by providing falsely inflated income figures to the mortgage lenders. Thereafter, she and her co-schemers arranged a series of sham re-sales of various properties, using numerous individuals who served as “straw buyers,” with mortgage loans obtained by submitting false information to the lenders. In several instances, Thomas collected tens of thousands of dollars in “proceeds” from the sham sales. In other instances, the properties were “dumped” by transferring title to a straw buyer and immediately defaulting on the mortgage loans.
Thomas, who was employed by Boston Department of Neighborhood Development at the time, collected approximately $60,000 in Section 8 Housing Assistance by using a phony identity, “Fitzgerald Thomas,” to pose as the landlord for her own residence, 10 Dix Street.
Thomas faces up to 30 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, and a $1,000,000 fine on each of two bank fraud convictions; up to 20 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each of wire fraud convictions; and up to 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the theft of federal funds (housing assistance payments) conviction.
United States District Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for July 11, 2012.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Cortez Richardson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division; Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lori J. Holik and James J. Fauci.
Mortgage fraud is a key focus of the Department of Justice, which created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in 2009. The task force works to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.