Former Customs Employee Pleads Guilty To Auctioning Online A Customs Declaration Form Signed By A Celebrity
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two defendants involved in a mortgage fraud conspiracy that targeted Charlotte-area homes were sentenced to prison late Tuesday, July 29, 2014, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Gregory D. Anderson, 47, of Kingstree, S.C. was sentenced to 15 years (180 months) in prison and his co-defendant Anthony C. Carrothers, 49, of Charlotte, was sentenced to 10 months. U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. also ordered Anderson to serve three years of supervised release and Carrothers two years supervised release following their prison terms.
In August 2012, Anderson pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud, HUD fraud, concealment of money laundering, and assaulting and causing bodily harm to a person assisting the United States. In October 2012, a federal jury found Carrothers guilty of bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Nadine Gurley, Special Agent in Charge, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD-OIG) and John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Division.
According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearings, from 2006 to 2009, the defendants were involved in a mortgage fraud conspiracy that generated over $1.7 million in fraudulent loans. Court records indicate that Anderson was the operator and promoter of the scheme and facilitated the conspiracy using a network of straw buyers, real estate professionals and mortgage loan processors, among others. Court records indicate that Anderson executed the scheme by purchasing homes at inflated prices, either in his name or in the name of “straw” buyers. Straw buyers are individuals who agree to purchase targeted properties in their names in exchange for a kickback. Court records indicate that some of Anderson’s straw buyers were individuals he recruited through his temporary employment agency.
According to court records, Anderson executed the scheme by arranging with the sellers to purchase their homes at inflated prices. Then, using fraudulent documents and false information on loan applications, he caused lenders to issue loans in Anderson’s name or in the straw buyers’ names at the inflated home prices. At closing, Anderson would profit by keeping the difference between the homes’ original and inflated prices.
According to filed documents and statements made in court, the proceeds sometimes went directly to Anderson after closing on a home. Other times, the money was funneled to Anderson through the shell “remodeling companies” Anderson had created solely for the purpose of perpetuating the scheme, according to court records. Additionally, as court records reflect, Anderson used other individuals, including Carrothers, who were willing use their own bank accounts in exchange for a kickback. Court documents show that Carrothers received approximately $1,000 for each of the fraudulent transactions in which he was involved. In all, over the course of the conspiracy Anderson obtained over $647,943 and three houses from the fraudulently obtained loans. The houses have been subsequently foreclosed. Carrothers received over $8,900 in kickbacks from Anderson for his role in the conspiracy.
In pronouncing the sentence, Judge Cogburn noted that Anderson’s offenses were especially aggravated by his past criminal record and his conduct in the charged scheme including being a leader/organizer of the scheme and recklessly endangering others in his attempt to flee arrest by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Officers, several of whom were injured attempting to arrest Anderson. Judge Cogburn ordered Anderson to pay restitution in the amount of $2,189,641.28. In sentencing CSarrothers, a former Charlotte fireman, Judge Cogburn accepted a joint recommendation from the defense and the government to sentence him to a lower term based on his acceptance of responsibility and work with disabled persons after his jury conviction on two felony counts. Carrothers was also order to pay $184,344.02 in restitution and to pay a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $62,000.
A third named defendant, Maria Mejia Herrera, 45, of Rock Hill, S.C. pleaded guilty in August 2012 to one count of bank fraud conspiracy. Herrera was one of Anderson’s straw buyers and was sentenced to one year of probation in August 2013. She was also ordered to pay $632,289 as restitution.
Anderson has been in federal custody since April 2011. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. Carrothers has been released on bond and will be ordered to self-report. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was handled by HUD-OIG and FBI. U.S. Attorney Tompkins also thanked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for the assistance in the case. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael E. Savage and Jennifer L. Dillon, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.