FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
FRIDAY - February 11, 2011
WOMAN SENTENCED FOR CUMBERLAND COUNTY
REAL ESTATE FRAUD SCHEME
NEW BERN - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court today Chief United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced LYNDA S. STEELE, 37, to 41 months’ imprisonment followed by three years’ supervised release. The Court also imposed $1,020,404.69 in restitution.
A Criminal Information was filed on July 29, 2010. On September 14, 2010, STEELE pled guilty to wire fraud.
According to the investigation, STEELE, doing business as JP & Associates Investment Firm, represented herself as someone who purchased properties for investment, fixed them up, and “flipped” them for a profit. In portraying even basic facts about herself to investors, STEELE often made misrepresentations, claiming that she was a licensed CPA when she had not graduated from college, that she was widowed because her husband died in the Army when she was actually divorced, and that she had previously worked with the IRS. STEELE represented to her investors that she would use their funds to purchase real estate in their names that could be held and then later resold at a profit. In reality, STEELE did not purchase the real estate, rather she frequently spent the money on other purchases such as renovation of her office space, payroll for a company owned by her boyfriend, and payment to past investors.
“Taking money from people through false statements is just another way of stealing that money. The defendant’s fraud wrecked havoc in the lives of the people who were counting on the money she took,” stated Mr. Holding.
Jeannine A. Hammett, Supervisory Special Agent, IRS-Criminal Investigation stated, “Ms. Steele manipulated investors to line her own pocket. A fraud of this magnitude requires a coordinated effort among law enforcement agencies to stop those involved from profiting from their wrongdoing.”
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the Fayetteville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney David Bragdon represented the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.