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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 1, 2016

Former Loan Officer Sentenced to Prison for Role in $45 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Contact Person: Dean Secor (843) 727-4381

Columbia, South Carolina---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Steven F. Weiss, age 67, of Virginia Beach, Virginia was sentenced on Wednesday in federal court in Charleston, South Carolina for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Bank Fraud, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.  U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel sentenced Weiss to 30 months in federal prison. Judge Gergel also ordered Weiss to serve three years of supervised release after he is released from prison (the first twelve months under electronic monitoring) and to pay restitution in the amount of $4,961,732.

Evidence presented at Weiss’ change of plea hearing established that he participated in a mortgage fraud conspiracy that utilized real estate and mortgage businesses operated in Summerville, South Carolina under the names North American Mortgage Group, LLC; Realty Executives of Coastal Carolina; and New Freedom Enterprises, LLC. 

The scheme involved more than 70 properties, approximately $45 million of mortgage loans, and a loss of more than $23 million suffered by financial institutions. The properties were located in Charleston, Johns Island, Ladson, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, Edisto Island, St. Helena Island, Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Lake Keowee, and Tybee Island, Georgia. 

Weiss worked as a loan officer for North American Mortgage Group, LLC. He was directly involved with at least 13 of the properties involved in the scheme, and the losses associated with those 13 properties totaled $4,961,732.

Two defendants previously pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme and are awaiting sentencing. Scott M. Wickersham, 36, of Summerville, pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Bank Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and two counts of Willfully Making and Subscribing a False Tax Return, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1). Kelly Martin, 34, of Moncks Corner pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Bank Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

Two other defendants were indicted in December in connection with the scheme and their cases are pending.

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).  Assistant United States Attorney Dean H. Secor of the Charleston office prosecuted the case.

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Updated April 7, 2016