Two Charged In Mortgage Fraud Scheme
PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ Acting United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar announced today, July 27, 2010, that Kimberly Baldwin of Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania, and Lewis Whoolery, formerly of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on a charge of Wire Fraud Conspiracy in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme.
The one‑count indictment named Baldwin, age 42, and Whoolery, age 41, as defendants. Whoolery currently resides in Delray Beach, Florida.
According to the indictment presented to the court, Whoolery worked at First Capital Home Equity, a company that assisted borrowers secure loans collateralized by real estate. Whoolery, along with several others, conspired to present lenders with false loan applications and other documents designed to mislead lenders into making loans. The loan applications contained misrepresentations related to the borrowers' income and assets. In addition, Baldwin prepared and submitted appraisals to lenders through First Capital Home Equity that represented that they were prepared by licensed appraisers when, in fact, they were prepared by unlicensed appraisers, including Baldwin herself. In addition, the appraisals overstated the true fair market values of the properties serving as collateral for the loans.
Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway, who presented the case to the grand jury, indicated that the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
The Mortgage Fraud Task Force conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and others involved in the mortgage industry. Federal law enforcement agencies participating in the Mortgage Task Force include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations; the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; the United States Postal Inspection Service; and the United States Secret Service. Other Mortgage Fraud Task Force members include the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office; the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, Bureau of Consumer Protection; the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation; and the United States Trustee's Office.
Mortgage industry members with knowledge of fraudulent activity are encouraged to call the Mortgage Fraud Task Force at (412) 894‑7550. Consumers are encouraged to report suspected mortgage fraud by calling the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 441‑2555.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.