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June 3, 2011

Former Appraiser Pleads Guilty To Mortgage Fraud Scheme

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former Greene County, Mo., real estate appraiser pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a nearly $11 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved more than two dozen residential properties.

Vincent Cantrell, 42, address unknown, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England on Thursday, June 2, 2011, to participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud from Nov. 1, 2004, to June 30, 2006. At the time of the conspiracy, Cantrell was a Missouri certified appraiser.

By pleading guilty, Cantrell admitted that he was hired to conduct appraisals of properties being purchased and re-sold at artificially-inflated prices by Charles E. Walker Realty, Inc., associates and investors. When preparing the reports, Cantrell used the artificially-inflated property values that were suggested to him rather than conducting true, unbiased appraisals on the properties involved.

Cantrell submitted 13 artificially-inflated appraisal reports in relation to 12 properties that were part of a mortgage fraud scheme. Cantrell was paid $3,900 for those reports but did not otherwise profit from the scheme.

A federal indictment alleges that Cantrell and co-conspirators caused mortgage lenders in at least 26 fraudulent real estate transactions to transmit loan proceeds totaling approximately $10,944,023. As a result of the scheme, co-conspirators actually received approximately $4.3 million in proceeds. Most of the residential properties involved in the mortgage fraud scheme have gone into foreclosure.

Under federal statutes, Cantrell is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn L. McKee. It was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

Source: United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri

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