Straw Buyer in Mortgage Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty To Filing a False Tax Return

September 9, 2010

Greenbelt, Maryland - Pamela Duffin, age 47, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to filing a false tax return, in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme where she was a straw purchaser.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.

“Honest and law abiding citizens are fed up with those who skirt their tax obligations,” stated Rebecca Sparkman, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Washington DC Field Office. “The law is clear on the issue of taxable income and who is required to file and pay taxes; there is no gray area on the subject.”

According to Duffin’s plea agreement, in the fall of 2006, she assisted Robert Dewain Venson, whom she knew as “Wayne,” purchase and finance at least six pieces of real estate in Salisbury and Ocean City, Maryland, by posing as the buyer. The properties included: 610 Light Street; 303 Newton Street; 224 Maryland Avenue; 507 Robinson Street; and 604 Smith Street in Salisbury; and 204 137th Street in Ocean City. The lenders loaned more than $1.1 million to finance their purchase.

Specifically, Venson paid Duffin thousands of dollars to use her name and credit to purchase the residences and to pose as the buyer in connection with each real estate purchase, including by signing documents and appearing at the settlement. Duffin did not report any of the payments from Venson on her federal income tax return for tax year 2006.

Venson supplied Duffin with the funds to complete the purchases and told Duffin he would make the mortgage payments on each property and take her name off the property after one year. However, Venson soon stopped making the mortgage payments, and the lenders foreclosed on the properties.

Venson, age 38, of Fort Washington, Maryland, was convicted by a federal jury on charges of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failing to file tax returns in connection with the scheme. He remains detained pending his sentencing, scheduled for October 7, 2010.

Duffin faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for December 8, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Michael R. Pauzé, who is prosecuting the case.

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