News and Press Releases

Judge Orders Pair into Custody Following Two Week Jury Trial

December 14, 2007

DAVID ALAN HAWKINS, 68, of Bellevue, Washington and HARRY SKEINS, JR., 72, an attorney from San Antonio, Texas, were convicted late today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, and two counts of Wire Fraud. The jury deliberated for one day following the two week trial. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez ordered both men taken into custody pending sentencing on March 7, 2008. Both men face up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to testimony at trial and records filed in the case, HAWKINS and SKEINS executed a scheme to take out loans on properties they did not own. HAWKINS, following two decades of fruitless litigation dating back to the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980's, used phony liens on the homes of others to obtain mortgage proceeds. HAWKINS used liens against the homes of a retired appeals court judge and a retired bank executive. The men invented a phony title insurance company to convince an Atlanta based lender that the lien was valid. Using a straw buyer who pretended to be purchasing these properties, the men convinced the mortgage lender to wire approximately $1.5 million to bank accounts associated with the scheme. Records in the case indicate HAWKINS and SKEINS planned to use a similar scheme to obtain funds based on phony liens on another eight properties belonging to retired judges, lawyers, bank executives and prosecutors. The scheme was disclosed when one of the property owners confronted an appraiser who was on their property and informed them that HAWKINS had no legal interest in the property. The appraiser then called law enforcement with a concern he had been involved in something illegal.

At one point in the investigation, HAWKINS and SKEINS traveled to the lender’s offices in Atlanta to bolster their claims that the liens were legitimate. In a meeting, recorded by the FBI with the lender’s permission, HAWKINS and SKEINS tried to convince the lender that the liens are valid and that their title insurance company is being lawfully activated. Both men were arrested on May 1, 2006.

The case was investigated by the FBI, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi and Special Assistant United States Attorney Johanna Vanderlee. Ms. Vanderlee is an attorney with the Social Security Administration specially designated to prosecute fraud cases in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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