Property Preservationist Indicted for Fraud, Money Laundering, Aggravated Identity Theft, Obstructing an IRS Investigation
PROVIDENCE – A federal grand jury returned a 14-count indictment today charging an East Greenwich, Rhode Island business woman, whose business specializes in preserving foreclosed homes for resale, with nine counts of wire fraud, two counts aggravated identity theft, and one count each of money laundering, structuring, and obstructing an Internal Revenue Service investigation, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman for the District of Rhode Island, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Kristina O'Connell, and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta.
According to the indictment and court documents, Monique N. Brady, owner and operator of MNB LLC, operated a scheme whereby she raised and pocketed millions of dollars from investors, including close friends, a family member, and business associates, by misrepresenting to them that she needed to raise tens of thousands of dollars for various repair projects. In return for their investment, investors were promised a return of fifty percent of the profit.
It is alleged that Brady fraudulently represented to potential investors that MNB had secured contracts to perform large scale rehabilitation projects on foreclosed properties in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and that payments ranging from approximately $20,000 to $80,000 were needed to pay subcontractors to perform the work. Brady often solicited and received multiple investments for the same property. To make potential investors believe she had secured contracts for large scale rehabilitation projects, Brady forwarded to her investors fraudulent emails purporting to be from a national property rehabilitation company claiming Brady had been approved to rehabilitate a property. Brady included in the emails fraudulent itemizations of work to be performed. Brady also included, without permission, the identity of an actual employee of the national property rehabilitation company in an attempt to make the emails appear authentic.
For the majority of properties for which Brady received investments from third parties, allegedly no work whatsoever was performed by MNB. On some properties, MNB performed low-dollar tasks and was paid less than $1,000, at times as little as $25.
From January 2014 to July 2018, Brady received approximately $10.2 million dollars in investments from about 32 individuals and corporations to whom she fraudulently represented that large-scale rehabilitation projects had been awarded to MNB. These investors have sustained a loss of approximately $4.78 million. Some of the investor funds allegedly were spent by Brady on personal expenditures, to include numerous vacations, personal mortgage payments and gambling-related expenses. When individual investors demanded from Brady a return on their investment she would, at times, use other investors funds. In this way, Brady allegedly operated a “Ponzi scheme.”
The indictment further alleges Brady attempted to obstruct an IRS criminal investigation when, after being told by IRS investigators she was under investigation, she asked investors to delete or destroy all email correspondence, texts, and documents relating to their investments in MNB rehabilitation projects.
An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Each wire fraud charge carries statutory penalties of up to 20 years in prison, up to 5 years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross profit/loss. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by statutory penalties of a 2-year mandatory sentence consecutive to any other sentence imposed and 1 year of supervised release. Money laundering is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Structuring is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Obstructing an IRS investigation is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 3 years in prison, 1 year supervised release, and a fine of $5,000.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lee Vilker of the District of Rhode Island and Trial Attorney Christopher O’Donnell of the Tax Division.
The matter was investigated by agents from IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI.