June 30, 2010
MISSOURI CITY MAN PLEAS GUILTY IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME
(HOUSTON) – Albert Terrance Watkins has pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud arising from a $10 million mortgage fraud scheme, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
Watkins, 46, a Missouri City area resident, was indicted in June 2009 along with others of perpetrating a scheme to defraud lenders of mortgage loans by making false/fraudulent claims on mortgage loan applications and having some borrowers make false representation of a Social Security number on those same applications. Today, he pleaded guilty and admitted his role in the multi-million dollar fraud scheme before U.S. District Judge David Hittner who has set sentencing for Sept. 27, 2010.
Watkins’ role was two-fold - that of a recruiter of borrowers with good credit on behalf of Phantom Marketing and as a loan processor at Capri Mortgage and United National Mortgage. Watkins and Adrian Levale Cole, who pleaded guilty to these same charges on June 29, 2010, devised a scheme to purchase multiple residential properties in the greater Houston area through fraudulent mortgage loans. Through their association with several companies - including Capri Mortgage Services, United National Mortgage and Phantom Marketing - Watkins and Cole were able to obtain more than $10 million in fraudulent loans as part of this mortgage fraud scheme between June 2003 and July 2006. On the sales agreement for a newly constructed residential property located in Friendswood, Texas, Albert T. Watkins was listed as the broker and buyer’s agent. Previously, Watkins communicated with the seller’s real estate agents and explained that the offer on the house was more than the asking price, because the house was to be modified to be A.D.A. (American Disabilities Act) approved. This was one of many examples of how Watkins was able to inflate the selling price of the homes in the Friendswood development. After the closing on the property, Watkins received two cashier’s checks - one for $11,500 and one for $9,750 - and distributed five other cashier’s checks to other individuals. No construction work of any kind was ever done by any construction company to make any improvements on that property located in Friendswood, Texas.
As with other loans obtained as part of this scheme, only the first few monthly mortgage payments were made and the mortgage loans went into default for non-payment.
Watkins, who has been permitted to remain on bond with electronic monitoring until sentencing, faces a maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000 along with a three-year-term of supervise release.
A third defendant charged in this case is pending trial in mid-July 2010.
The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General and the Friendswood Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Melissa J. Annis and Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn Ferko prosecuted the case.
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