TEN DEFENDANTS IN MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME, LED BY FORMER DALLAS COWBOY EUGENE LOCKHART AND CO-DEFENDANT WILLIAM TISDALE, ARE CONVICTED
Conspiracy Involved Approximately 54 Fraudulent Residential Loan Closings Resulting in Funding Approximately $20.5 Million in Fraudulent Loans
DALLAS — Following a nearly five-week jury trial, before U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis, four co-defendants in a mortgage fraud scheme, run by former Dallas Cowboy Eugene J. Lockhart and co-defendant William Randolph Tisdale, were convicted today on all counts of a superseding indictment charging them with various offenses related to a mortgage fraud scheme in which they participated in the Dallas area from approximately 2002 to 2005. Judge Solis declared a mistrial for defendant Suzette Switzer Hinds, 46, of Dallas, as the jury could not reach a verdict on her. The remaining defendants charged in the case have pleaded guilty. Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Each of the following four defendants, all Texas residents, were convicted as follows:
William Randolph Tisdale, Jr., 46, of Dallas, was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of bank fraud.
Hubert Jones, III, 40, of Garland, was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud.
Lendell Beacham, 52, of Desoto, a mortgage company owner, was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.
Scott David Eller, 45, of Mansfield, a CPA, was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The maximum statutory sentence for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory sentence for bank fraud is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum statutory sentence for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The below-listed defendants pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the fraud:
Eugene J. Lockhart, 49, of Carrollton, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If the Court accepts the terms of his plea agreement, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Patricia Ortega Suarez, 56, of Dallas, an escrow officer, pleaded guilty to two counts of making a false statement to HUD. If the Court accepts the terms of her plea agreement, she faces a maximum sentence of 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Michael Anthony Caldwell, 50, of Arlington, who was a manager for a title company, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to HUD; he faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Donna Lois Kneeland, 46, of Grand Prairie, also an escrow officer, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to HUD. She faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Jermaine Frederick Frazier, 38, of Desoto, who acted as a loan processor and lieutenant for Lockhart, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If the Court accepts the terms of his plea agreement, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Restitution may be ordered; sentencing dates will be set later by an order of the Court.
Lockhart was involved with real estate entities, some formed by him and Tisdale, which had names that were often derived in some fashion from a reference to the Dallas Cowboys, including America’s Team Mortgage; America’s Team Realty; America’s Team Funding Group; Ace Mortgage; Cowboys Realty; Cowboys Mortgage and KLT Properties. Tisdale was involved with Pinnacle Development and Realty Corporation; Atilla Capital Corporation; and KLT Properties. Jones was involved with Pinnacle Development and Realty Corporation and Atilla Capital Corporation.
The defendants ran a scheme in which they located single-family residences for sale in the Dallas area, including distressed and pre-foreclosure properties, and negotiated a sales price with the seller. They created surplus loan proceeds by inflating the sales price to an arbitrary amount substantially more than the fair market value of the residence.
Generally, they recruited individuals to act as nominee or “straw purchasers” or “straw borrowers,” promising to pay them a bonus or commission of between $10,000 and $20,000 for their participation in a particular real estate transaction. The conspirators caused the loan applications for each straw borrower to include false financial information, often including inflated false income figures to conceal the borrower’s true financial condition so that the lender would more likely approve the loan. The conspirators concealed from the lenders the true status, financial condition and intentions of the named borrowers, knowing that loans would not likely be approved if the lender knew the true role, credit worthiness and risk of each straw borrower. The conspirators falsely represented in loan documents that the straw purchaser intended to use the property as their primary residence, intentionally concealing from the lender that each straw borrower viewed himself as an “investor,” who never intended to occupy the home.
Some of the conspirators also caused bogus and fraudulent “marketing fees” to be listed on loan closing documents to provide a means for the conspirators to receive surplus/excess loan proceeds.
The scope of the conspiracy involved approximately 54 fraudulent residential property loan closings resulting in the funding of approximately $20.5 million in fraudulent loans. The actual loss to lenders is nearly $3 million.
Mortgage fraud is a major focus of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.
The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David L. Jarvis and Mark Penley are prosecuting.
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