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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


JUNE 25, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


FORMER APPRAISER, STRAW BUYERS SENTENCED FOR

MORTGAGE FRAUD CONSPIRACY


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former Lee’s Summit, Mo., appraiser and a husband and wife from Kansas City, Kan., were sentenced in federal court today for their roles in a mortgage fraud conspiracy.


             Jeremy A. Plagman, 30, of Lee’s Summit, formerly an appraiser doing business as JET Appraisals in Lee’s Summit, and Larry E. Barshaw, 57, and Linda M. Thompson-Barshaw, 58, of Kansas City, Kan., were sentenced in separate appearances before U.S. Chief District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr. Plagman was sentenced to two years of probation, including 30 days of home detention under electronic monitoring. As a condition of his probation, Plagman may not be involved in the real estate industry. The Barshaws were each sentenced to five years of probation, including six months of home detention. The court also ordered each of the three co-defendants to pay a $2,000 fine, and ordered the Barshaws to pay $1,517,108 in restitution.


             Plagman and the Barshaws are among seven co-defendants who have pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud. The remaining co-defendants have not yet been sentenced.


             Co-defendant Raymond Walter Zwego, Jr., 59, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty on Oct. 19, 2007, to being the organizer and leader of the mortgage fraud scheme. Zwego owned and operated Xpress Car Sales, Xpress Car Rental, North Mission Investments, Cobalt Blue, LLC, and Indigo Blue in North Kansas City. Zwego admitted that, from early September through Nov. 17, 2006, he participated in a conspiracy to defraud Fieldstone Mortgage Corporation. Zwego also pleaded guilty to 11 counts of wire fraud.


             Zwego admitted that he conspired with others to obtain financing to purchase a residential property at 5034 Sunset Drive in Kansas City, Mo., at an inflated price in order to obtain loan proceeds in excess of the actual sale price. According to Zwego, co-conspirators falsely represented to Fieldstone Mortgage that the sale price was $1.2 million, while in reality, the actual sale price was $707,000. According to Zwego, co-conspirators sought to obtain a loan to purchase the property through a fraudulent loan application and other fraudulent documents.


             Zwego admitted to sending, or causing to be sent, fraudulent documents in a series of facsimiles and an e-mail in furtherance of the conspiracy.


             The Barshaws were recruited as “straw buyers,” posing as purchasers of the Sunset Drive property. In reality, the Barshaws never intended to reside at the residence or to make payments on the mortgage. They were to be paid $40,000 for their role in the conspiracy. Thompson-Barshaw is the owner of Colormarc, Inc., a remodeling business that employs her husband, Larry Barshaw.


             Plagman provided an inflated appraisal of $1.2 million for the property at 5034 Sunset Drive.


             Co-defendants James E. Coleman, 60, and James R. Rhoades, 48, both of Kansas City, pleaded guilty on May 21, 2007, to their roles in the mortgage fraud conspiracy. Coleman, a Certified Public Accountant who formerly served as president of the board of a Kansas City magnet school, also pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud. A sentencing hearing for Coleman is scheduled on July 9, 2008, and a sentencing hearing for Rhoades is scheduled on July 1, 2008.


             Coleman’s role in the conspiracy was to prepare and provide a number of fraudulent letters for the Barshaws attesting to their credit worthiness. These letters and the inflated appraisal were submitted to Fieldstone Mortgage as part of the loan application to purchase the property. Rhoades’ role in the conspiracy was to assist Zwego in obtaining documents needed for the transaction, to prepare and submit false documents as needed, and to contact co-conspirators as needed.


             The Barshaws and Coleman also pleaded guilty to wire fraud by acknowledging their responsibility for a facsimile transmission of signed closing documents relating to the sale and purchase of the property that was sent to Fieldstone Mortgage on Nov. 17, 2006.


             Additionally, Coleman admitted that, on three separate occasions in October and November 2006, he committed wire fraud by transmitting facsimiles of fraudulent documents in furtherance of the conspiracy.


             Co-defendant Michael Rodd, 54, of Olathe, Kan., pleaded guilty on June 27, 2007, to his role in the mortgage fraud conspiracy. Rodd was a real estate broker doing business as Heartland of America, Inc., in Olathe. Rodd is currently a fugitive and a federal warrant has been issued for his arrest.


             Rodd’s role in the conspiracy was to act as the real estate agent in connection with the sale and purchase of the Sunset Drive property. He obtained a listing agreement for the residence, purportedly found the buyers, and otherwise acted as the real estate agent for the transaction. He attended a meeting of co-defendants (including Zwego) at which they agreed that an inflated appraisal would be obtained, and then the sale price would be inflated and a false management fee added to the Settlement Statement (to be submitted to the lender), with Zwego taking the difference.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Linda Parker Marshall and Gene Porter. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html