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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Conspirators Indicted for Fraudulently Obtaining $1 Million in Vehicle Loans

Submitted Fake Documents to Lenders to Obtain Loans for Vehicles; Received Money from Vehicle Sales, But Did Not Provide the Vehicles to the Buyers

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted the following defendants on charges arising from a bank fraud scheme:  

Brian Edward Diggs, a/k/a “Bryan Diggs” and “Big Poppa,” age 43, of Brandywine, Maryland;
Patricia Yvonne Diggs, a/k/a “Patricia Yvonne Johnson,” and “Patricia Yvonne Holmes,” age 48, of Brandywine Maryland;
Rechelle Deborjah Fowler, a/k/a “Rechelle Fowler-Jones,” and “Daisy Fowler,” age 45, of Waldorf, Maryland;
Brian Dominique Wilson, age 23, of Brandywine;
Robert Anthony Fitzgerald Lathan, age 37, of Accokeek, Maryland; and
Derrick Kwan Byas, Jr., age 26, of Baltimore.

The indictment was returned on April 29, 2015 and partially unsealed today upon the arrests of four defendants.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Special Agent in Charge Ivan Arvelo of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department.

“The defendants allegedly submitted fake documents and false information to obtain car loans, defrauding lenders of more than $1 million,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “The defendants also allegedly agreed to sell vehicles to other people and took their money but did not provide the cars. The charge of ‘aggravated identity theft” – using someone else’s identity to commit a crime – carries a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, in addition to the penalty for the fraud offense.”

Brian Diggs owned Big Boi Auto Sales LLC, Showcase Auto Sales, Inc., Car Wiz, Inc. and Auto Dupo of Waldorf LLC.  Robert Lathan owned Total Computer Solutions, Inc. 

According to the two count indictment, from January 2009 to April 29, 2015, the defendants and others created shell entities purporting to be legitimate businesses, including the businesses identified above.  The defendants applied for vehicle loans with financial institutions and lenders using false information as to employment history at the shell entities, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers.  They created and submitted fake documents, such as lien releases, utility bills, paystubs, letters of recommendation and a police report. The defendants often applied for vehicle loans on the same vehicle with different lenders.  They sold the vehicles, obtained money from the sales and then did not provide the vehicles to the buyers.  They deposited the loan funds into bank accounts and cashed loan checks at liquor stores.  The defendants failed to pay the vehicle loans, which often resulted in the vehicles being repossessed by the lenders.

As a result of the scheme, the lenders lost over $1 million.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for conspiring to commit bank fraud and a mandatory minimum of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft consecutive to any other sentence.  An initial appearance was held today for Fowler, Wilson and Lathan in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt and they were released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services. Patricia Diggs also had an initial appearance today and was detained pending a detention hearing on Thursday, June 4, 2015.  Byas remains detained on state charges.  Brian Diggs is expected to have an initial appearance on June 3, 2015.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

The Maryland Identity Theft Working Group has been working since 2006 to foster cooperation among local, state, federal, and institutional fraud investigators and to promote effective prosecution of identity theft schemes by both state and federal prosecutors. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Working Group, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to work with financial institutions and businesses to address identity fraud, identify those who compromise personal identity information, and protect citizens from identity theft.

Today’s announcement is part of the efforts undertaken in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Windom and Joseph R. Baldwin, who are prosecuting the case.

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Updated June 2, 2015