News and Press Releases

Former Chairman And Executive Director Of The Housing Authority Of The City Of Winston-Salem And One Other Indicted Fraud and False Statements Relating to Sale of Lots in Lansing Ridge Subdivision Alleged

August 28, 2008

Greensboro, NC – A federal grand jury in Greensboro has charged ERNEST HAROLD PITT, THOMAS PARRISH TROLLINGER, and JAMES REID LAWRENCE, in a scheme to defraud the Housing Authority of the City of Winston-Salem, NC (“HAWS”), announced U.S. Attorney Anna Mills Wagoner for the Middle District of North Carolina today.

The 10-count indictment, returned Tuesday August 26, 2008, alleges that the defendants acted to defraud HAWS by having it loan $414,000 to Forsyth Economic Ventures, Inc. (“FEV”), for the purchase of property (23 lots in the Lansing Ridge Subdivision) owned by East Pointe Developers, LLC (“EPD”), without disclosing to HAWS the financial interests of PITT and TROLLINGER in EPD, and without the knowledge or approval of the HAWS Board of Commissioners (“HAWSBOC”) or the FEV Board of Directors. At the time of the transaction, PITT and TROLLINGER were the sole managers of EPD, directed its operations and received the profits from it. PITT was also Chairman of the HAWSBOC and President of FEV. LAWRENCE was Executive Director of HAWS and Vice President of FEV. The indictment alleges that PITT and TROLLINGER each received $84,000 as a result of the transaction. PITT and LAWRENCE thereafter obtained a bank loan in the amount of $414,000 on behalf of FEV to repay HAWS, again without the knowledge or approval of the HAWSBOC and the FEV Board of Directors.

If convicted of the allegations in Count One of the Indictment, the defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison. If convicted of mail fraud as alleged in Counts Six and Seven, the defendants also face a maximum of 20 years in prison. The money laundering charges contained in Counts Two through Five against PITT (2, 3, 4) and TROLLINGER (2, 5) carry a maximum 10 year prison sentence. LAWRENCE is charged in Counts Eight and Nine with making materially false statements during the ensuing investigation. TROLLINGER is also charged, in Count Ten, with making materially false statements during the investigation of the transaction. If convicted of Counts Eight, Nine or Ten, those defendants face up to 5 years in prison. Conviction of any of the counts in the Indictment may also result in imposition of a $250,000 fine.

The charges in this indictment are the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - Office of Inspector General.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

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