News

Fort Washington Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison For Mortgage Fraud Scheme


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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2011

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. sentenced Robert Dewain Venson, age 38, of Fort Washington, Maryland, today to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failing to file tax returns in connection with a three year mortgage fraud scheme involving at least a dozen residential properties. Judge Williams also ordered Venson to pay restitution of $2,060,021.76 and to forfeit $892,368, his proceeds from the scheme.

The sentence 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 James W. McJunkin 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 Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Keith A. Fixel of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division.

“This lengthy sentence sends a powerful message that people who commit mortgage fraud will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

"IRS-Criminal Investigation special agents work diligently to identify and bring to prosecution those who fail to meet their tax obligations,” stated Rebecca Sparkman, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Washington DC Field Office. "We work together with other federal law enforcement agencies to follow the money to financially disrupt criminal activities such as Mr. Venson’s money laundering scheme."

According to evidence presented at his two week trial, from 2004 to 2007 Venson negotiated the purchase of at least a dozen 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 settlements posing as the buyers. 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 information from the mortgage lender. Under this scheme, the trial evidence showed that Venson reaped $892,368 from the scheme.

Venson also failed to file individual federal income tax returns for 2004, 2005 and 2006 during the period of the scheme.

Venson has been detained since his conviction.

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 the integrity of the credit markets. Information about 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 thanked the FBI, IRS-CI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation and commended Assistant United States Attorneys Michael R. Pauze and Robert Hur, who prosecuted the case.

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