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REAL ESTATE BUSINESS OWNER SENTENCED TO PRISON IN MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, AUGUST 22, 2013
http://www.justice.gov/usao/ohs
CONTACT: Fred Alverson
Public Affairs Officer
(614) 469-5715

Antonio Weathers, 42, of Cincinnati, Ohio was sentenced in Cincinnati today to 17 months in prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme involving several mortgage lenders that were defrauded as a result of falsified loan documents submitted for purchases of multiple Cincinnati-area properties.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS), and Christopher White, Assistant Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, announced the sentence handed down by Chief United States District Judge Susan J. Dlott.

Weathers pleaded guilty on April 8, 2013 to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. According to court documents, Weathers formed a real estate business in which he arranged for the purchase and resale of mostly low income properties. Weathers committed mail fraud by securing mortgage closing funds for the purchase of a property located in Cincinnati, Ohio which resulted in a U.S. Postal Service Express Mail package to be sent from Strongtower Title Agency to the lender, Preferred Capital. Weathers then transferred $42,532.43 in mail fraud proceeds from one bank account to another bank account in the name of Antonio Weathers, d/b/a, KI Enterprises.

Weathers was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term and was ordered to pay $242,340 in restitution to the victim lenders.

On June 25, 2013 Sylvia Odia Thomas, 41, formerly of West Chester, Ohio was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Herman J. Weber to 30 months in prison for her role in this mortgage fraud scheme.  She pleaded guilty on November 6, 2012 to one count of mail fraud and one count of filing false income tax returns. Both crimes were committed in connection with her business as a mortgage broker. “She habitually falsified documentation for loan applications for her clients and failed to report her correct income to the IRS,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Mangan wrote in a memorandum filed with the court prior to sentencing.

Thomas willfully filed false federal income tax returns with the IRS for the 2006 through 2009 income tax years. These federal income tax returns did not include substantial amounts of additional income that was paid to Thomas in the form of broker closing and processing fees that were obtained from brokering and closing client loans. In total, Thomas underreported her gross receipts by $312,882 for the 2006 through 2009 income tax years, resulting in a tax loss of $95,422.14. The Court determined the amount of loss attributable to Thomas from mortgage fraud was $313,021.

Thomas operated a home renovation company and later started her own mortgage brokerage business. Eventually, she began writing false income and employment information on loan applications in order to get her clients approved. She also fabricated false supporting documents that were sent to the lenders and created false down payments for her clients by making cashier’s checks to look like earnest money from the clients.

Thomas was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after her prison term and must pay $313,021 in restitution to lenders, plus $95,422.14 to the IRS.

“By now, there have been enough mortgage fraud related convictions around the country that those who are thinking about doing it ought to know that they are going to get caught,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.

U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation conducted by IRS Special Agents and Postal Inspectors, and Assistant United States Attorney Mangan who prosecuted this case.

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