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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 30, 2018

Lake Jackson Area Attorney Convicted in Scheme to Commit Bank Fraud

HOUSTON ‐ A Lake Jackson area attorney has entered a guilty plea to bank fraud for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Kirk Lawrence Brannan, 64, admitted to conspiring with others from 2005 to 2009 to execute a scheme to defraud Wells Fargo Bank and other lenders.

Brannan sold 10 beach homes in the Freeport/Surfside area to “straw buyers” at exorbitant prices. Other co-conspirators recruited straw buyers who created loan applications with misrepresentations that lenders relied upon in deciding to make the mortgage loans. The applications contained misrepresentations of the buyer’s address, employer, income and expenses. The applications also suggested the buyers were much better credit risks than they actually were. Brannan admitted he paid kickbacks to co-conspirators each time one of the beach homes was sold to a straw buyer.

The beach properties were sold at two to three times the appraised values. The mortgage lenders, including Wells Fargo Bank, were induced to lend the inflated amounts for the purchases through flawed or fraudulent appraisals which were based on comparisons Brannan manufactured to further the scheme. 

Brannan created settlement statements that suggested he sold three of his properties to his children at exorbitant prices. Appraisers relied upon these “sales” as comparable sales in appraising Brannan’s remaining properties sold to straw buyers. As a result of the fraudulent appraisals, he and his co-conspirators were able to inflate the values for his properties and deceive the lenders into approving home loans at those exorbitant amounts. 

All of the straw buyers defaulted on the mortgages, and all 10 of the beach properties ended up in foreclosure. 

The fraudulent mortgage loan scheme resulted in a loss of $5,317,350 to Wells Fargo Bank and the other lenders. Brannan paid $2,401,368 to his co-conspirators as part of the scheme.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal accepted the plea and set sentencing for Aug. 29, 2018, at which time Brannan faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million maximum fine. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

Co-conspirators Chucoboie Lanier, 41, David Lee Morris, 55, and Derwin Jerome Blackshear, 50, all of Houston, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. They are set for sentencing Sept. 26, 2018.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Johnson and Michael Day are prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Mortgage Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated April 30, 2018