Realtor Convicted of Mortgage Fraud
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – SAFIYYAH TAHIR BATTLES, formerly a real estate agent with T&T Realty in Oklahoma City, has been convicted of mortgage fraud and money laundering after a five-day trial, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
On November 15, 2011, Battles was indicted on three counts: making a false statement to First Security Bank, using an interstate wire facility to defraud Saxon Mortgage, and engaging in a monetary transaction with more than $10,000 from the proceeds of crime. Today a jury found her guilty on the second and third counts. It was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the first count.
The evidence at trial showed that during late 2006 and early 2007, Battles borrowed about $375,000.00 from First Security Bank to build a house at 5404 North Lottie Avenue in Oklahoma City. She intended the house to be her personal residence. In April of 2007, she used her sister’s mortgage brokerage company, Lending Leaders, to apply for a $500,000.00 loan from Saxon Mortgage of Fort Worth, Texas. Saxon required her to provide twelve months of bank statements to support her income and assets. The jury heard evidence that the bank statements had been altered by adding more than $100,000.00 to the ending balance on each statement, by deleting her husband’s name as an account holder, and by removing numerous overdraft fees. At the closing on May 4, 2007, Battles signed a final loan application that stated falsely that she earned $344,677.92 per year and had $165,907.70 in her bank account. According to a tax return that Battles filed in March of 2009, her adjusted gross income for 2006 was $14,001.00; according to the records of First Security Bank, her actual account balance on May 4, 2007, was $852.50.
Based on the application information, a forged letter, and communications with the mortgage brokerage on the day of closing, Saxon Mortgage authorized $102,630.01 from the loan proceeds to be paid to a local builder. Battles took the $102,630.01 check at closing, deposited into her own bank account, and used it for her own purposes. The third count relates to a $15,000.00 check that Battles wrote to her mother, Trina Tahir, two days after she deposited the $102,630.01 check.
Battles faces a maximum punishment of twenty years in prison and a fine of $250,000.00 on the wire fraud count. On the money laundering count, she faces a potential penalty of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000.00. She will also be required to pay restitution to Saxon Mortgage, which lost over $300,000.00 in connection with 5404 North Lottie Avenue. Sentencing will take place in approximately ninety days.
These charges are the result of an investigation conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott E. Williams and Chris M. Stephens.