Two Sentenced In Mortgage Fraud

Two people who pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud charges have been sentenced to federal prison, U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said Tuesday.

Terrence L. Cole, 44, Kansas City, Kan., was sentenced to 37 months and ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution. Victoria Bennett, 36, Leawood, Kan., was sentenced to 24 months and ordered to pay more than $4.7 million in restitution.

Cole pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and one count of money laundering. Bennett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and one count of wire fraud.

In their pleas, they admitted they conspired with co-defendant Wildor Washington, Jr., and others to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans by submitting inflated property appraisals and other false information to lenders. The conspiracy involved various businesses owned or controlled by Washington including Heritage Financial Investments, Legacy Enterprises, Atlantic Mortgage, Inc., The Real Estate Group, J.T.F Enterprises, Liberty Escrow and AMSTAR Mortgage.

Cole was the chief financial officer of Heritage Mortgage. Bennett worked for Washington and processed loans generated by Washington’s businesses.

Washington and other conspirators submitted false and fraudulent property appraisals to various lenders. Documents produced by the conspirators included inflated property values and forged signatures of licensed appraisers.

The conspirators targeted low-income borrowers and borrowers who lacked experience with real estate transactions. They enticed borrowers to apply for real estate loans by promising them loans regardless of their credit rating or financial situation. At the time of closing, the conspirators imposed excessive or unexpected loan origination fees and appraisal fees, as well as higher interest rates

Co-defendants include:

– Wildor Washington, Jr., who was sentenced to 200 months.

– Kara E. Robinson-Franks, who was sentenced to 36 months.

– Scott Alexander, who was sentenced to 12 months and a day.

– Maurice Ragland, who pleaded guilty and is set for sentencing 26, 2010


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