News

Fort Washington Man Convicted in Mortgage Fraud Scheme


Case Investigated by the Maryland and Washington, D.C. Mortgage Fraud Task Forces

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2009

Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal jury today convicted Robert Dewain Venson, age 38, of Fort Washington, Maryland for mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failing to file tax returns in connection with a three year mortgage fraud scheme involving 13 residential properties.

The conviction was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Assistant Director in Charge Shawn Henry of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office; and Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division.

According to evidence presented at the two week trial, from 2004 to 2007 Venson negotiated the purchase of 13 residential properties in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including houses in Hyattsville, Ocean City, Fort Washington and Salisbury, Maryland. Rather than purchase the properties in his own name, the evidence proved that Venson paid straw buyers to appear at the settlement posing as the buyer. Witnesses testified that Venson typically would represent to the straw buyer that he would pay the loan obligation. Venson inflated the price listed on the sales documents to an amount substantially larger than the actual price, causing the mortgage lender to provide funds for the purchase substantially in excess of the actual price. Venson misrepresented and concealed the true purchase price, his arrangement with the straw buyer and other material information from the mortgage lender. Under this scheme, the trial evidence showed that Venson reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Evidence showed that Venson failed to file individual federal income tax returns for 2004, 2005 and 2006, during the period of the scheme. Based on the mortgage fraud scheme, the indictment seeks forfeiture of property, including a money judgment of $892,371.

“The IRS-Criminal Investigation, in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, vigorously pursues individuals who commit crimes against our community and economy,” stated Rebecca Sparkman, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Washington DC Field Office. “Convictions, like the one just returned against Robert Venson, send a loud and clear message that people who willfully defy the laws, including tax laws, will be fully investigated and prosecuted for their actions.”

Venson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of the eight counts of mail fraud, each of the eight counts of wire fraud and each of the seven counts of money laundering; and one year in prison for each of the three counts of failure to file tax returns. Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. ordered Venson detained pending his sentencing, scheduled for October 7, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.

The Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force was established to unify the agencies that regulate and investigate mortgage fraud and promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of mortgage fraud schemes. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to protect consumers from fraud and promote mortgage fraud prosecutions is available http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/Mortgage-Fraud/index.html.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working 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.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Michael R. Pauze and Robert Hur, who are prosecuting the case.

 

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