Federal Jury Convicts Man of Wire and Mail Fraud in Connection with Fraudulent Mortgage Debt Reduction Scheme
HONOLULU, Hawaii – A federal jury yesterday found Anthony T. Williams, 48, of Nashville, Tennessee guilty of 32 counts of wire and mail fraud. The verdict followed a four-week trial before United States District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi. Sentencing is scheduled for June 24, 2020
According to the evidence presented at trial, Williams marketed a fraudulent mortgage debt reduction scheme to distressed homeowners, who were mostly non-native English speakers in the Filipino immigrant community in Hawaii. Williams created two companies, Mortgage Enterprise Investments (MEI) and Common Law Office of America (CLOA), neither of which was licensed to service or modify mortgages. Through MEI, Williams made conflicting promises to clients that he could eliminate their existing mortgage obligations to their lenders, or reduce their mortgage obligations by half. Through CLOA, Williams promised legal representation in mortgage-related litigation and foreclosure proceedings. To give himself the appearance of credibility, Williams told prospective clients he was a “private attorney general” and brandished an official-looking law enforcement badge and credentials, despite not having a law license or any affiliation with law enforcement.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that Williams falsely promised victims that he could eliminate their existing home mortgage obligations by filing bogus documents with the Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances. These documents included new MEI mortgages and notes obligating homeowners to make monthly payments to MEI. Williams then advised homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments to their lenders and to pay him instead.
The government presented evidence that between 2012 and 2015,Williams enlisted 112 victims in Hawaii into his MEI program and fraudulently obtained over $218,000. Furthermore, several victims testified at trial that they relied upon Williams’s representations and went into foreclosure as a result of the MEI program and lost their homes.
The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth M. Sorenson and Gregg Paris Yates handled the prosecution.