Former North Carolina Resident Charged with Fraud in Connection with Purchase of York County Property
The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced that yesterday a federal grand jury sitting in Harrisburg, PA returned a two-count indictment against Caitlin Lucille Walls Smith, age 37, formerly of Wilmington, NC, charging her with violations of the federal wire fraud statute.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, the indictment charged that Caitlin Smith was a high school graduate who never completed her college education. Applied for a position as an officer in the nuclear program of the United States Navy in July 2008.
In her application and in subsequent interviews, questionnaires and other documents, Smith falsely represented that she had a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina, a Masters of Science in Chemistry from Duke University, a Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering and a Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Engineering from the University of Delaware. The indictment alleges that in fact, she had never been awarded any of these degrees by any of the institutions.
The indictment alleges that Smith was accepted into the Navy nuclear program with the rank of Ensign. Using her fraudulently-acquired military status, she applied for a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-backed loan in September 2010 by calling PNC Bank in Newark, Delaware, for the purpose of purchasing a property in York County, Pennsylvania.
As part of the loan application process, Smith submitted forged and fraudulent bank statements and documents purporting to be from the United States Navy confirming her actual and anticipated income and assets. Smith also allegedly submitted a forged and fraudulent lease agreement purporting to have been signed by herself and a third party to demonstrate that her property in Delaware had been leased and was therefore not a liability to the defendant or to PNC Bank. The loan was backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs under its Loan Guarantee Program.
In November 2010, PNC Bank approved Smith's loan based on the forged and fraudulent bank statements and documents purporting to be from the United States Navy confirming her actual and anticipated income and assets and wire transferred the loan amount of $437,423.92 from Kentucky to the defendant's title company account at Metro Bank in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania. The fraudulently-acquired funds were the allegedly used by the defendant to acquire the York County property.
In 2010, Smith was court-martialed by the Navy for false representations relating to her enlistment and is presently serving her sentence.
If convicted of the charges in the present indictment, Smith is subject to up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod coordinated the investigation and has been assigned to prosecute the case.
An Indictment or Information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the Grand Jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged Defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.
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