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Justice News

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lake Jackson Attorney And Others Charged In Mortgage Fraud Scheme

HOUSTON - Kirk Lawrence Brannan, 60, a real estate and tax attorney in Lake Jackson, has turned himself in to authorities following the return of a federal indictment alleging he and others participated in a mortgage fraud scheme involving properties in Surfside and Freeport, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Brannan is charged in the two-count indictment along with Chucobie Lanier, 37, David Lee Morris, 52, and Derwin Jerome Blackshear, 47. They are set to make their initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy K. Johnson at 2:00 p.m.

The indictment, returned under seal Feb. 18, 2015, and unsealed today, alleges that during 2005 through 2009 Brannan sold a number of beach homes that he or family members owned in Surfside and Freeport through a mortgage fraud scheme. Lanier approached Brannan and offered to obtain buyers for Brannan’s homes if Brannan would kick-back to Lanier the proceeds from the sales that were above an agreed upon amount, according to the indictment. Lanier allegedly distributed the fraudulently obtained funds to Morris and Blackshear who helped organize the fraud scheme.

The indictment further alleges Brannan’s beach homes were purchased by “straw buyers” who had no intention of paying of the mortgage loans on their own or living in the homes. Numerous misrepresentations were allegedly made in the mortgage loan applications, and the lenders were induced to lend inflated sums for the purchases.

According to the indictment, all of the beach homes sold through the scheme ended up in foreclosure. 

All four defendants are charged with conspiracy and face up to 30 years in federal prison as well as a possible $1 million fine, upon conviction. Brannan, Lanier and Morris are also charged with one count of bank fraud and face the same penalty if convicted on that charge.

The charges are the result of an investigation by FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Johnson is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated April 30, 2015