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July 8, 2011

Six Charged in Marijuana Trafficking, Money Laundering and Mortgage Fraud Investigation

JUL 08 DETROIT - An indictment charging six defendants with mortgage fraud, arson, marijuana trafficking and money laundering was unsealed today after many of those charged were arrested, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today. Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso, Inspector in Charge Joseph Pirone, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Detroit Division, Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, Michigan State Police, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Frost, U.S. Secret Service and Chief Joseph Porcarelli, Grosse Ile Police Department.

Named in the ten-count indictment were: Linda Abdullah, aka Linda Holt, age 40, of Inkster (charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, arson, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering conspiracy), Eric Waldon, age 46, of Detroit (wire fraud), Rolando Hampton, age 29, of Inkster (conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering conspiracy), Felicia Hairston, age 45, of Detroit (conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering conspiracy), Jacqueline Holt, aka Jacqueline Jones, age 47, of Romulus (conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering conspiracy), and Andrew Holt, age 73, of Detroit (conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering conspiracy). Four of the six defendants will be making appearances today in federal court in Detroit.

The ten count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury seated in Detroit on June 28, 2011, charges that Linda Abdullah aka Linda Holt, from August 18, 2006, through February 27, 2009, devised and participated in a scheme to defraud various lenders by acting as a mortgage broker and arranging six mortgage loans to purchase five properties for straw buyers based on false statements relating to their employment, income, the source of their down payments, and their intentions to reside in the homes. She is also charged with attempting to obtain yet another mortgage loan which was unfunded. Eric Waldon is charged with aiding and abetting Linda Abdullah relative to one of the funded loans. The indictment charges further that Linda Abdullah knowingly aided and abetted the arson of a rental home (which had been previously obtained with a fraudulent mortgage), located on Sussex street in Detroit, on March 14, 2007.

The indictment also charges that from June of 2008, through August of 2009, five defendants were part of a drug organization that shipped marijuana from Arizona to the Detroit area, typically using United States Postal Service Express Mail Parcels weighing 10 to 20 pounds. At least 60 such parcels were shipped, using a system of falsified business names and return addresses to disguise the true sender and receiver of the parcels. During the same time period, proceeds of the illegal drug and fraud activity, exceeding $400,000, was deposited in Detroit- area bank accounts. The money was then withdrawn at the corresponding branch bank in the Phoenix, Arizona, area, in order to pay for the marijuana being purchased by the organization. The money laundering was conducted in cash deposits and withdrawals of less than $10,000, so as not to require the filing of currency transaction reports with the Internal Revenue Service. The indictment alleges that the profits from the mortgage fraud scheme were used to promote the drug trafficking enterprise.

"The individuals arrested in this case have laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars -- money used to further their drug trafficking business right here in southeast Michigan," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso. "The strong cooperation between multiple law enforcement agencies is what led to the dismantling of this group of criminal entrepreneurs, who thought they were smart enough to avoid detection. The greed that motivated these folks, ultimately led to their arrests."

"This investigation was an excellent example of the partnership between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies working together to protect the American public and investigate and dismantle this drug and fraud conspiracy," said Joseph Pirone, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Detroit Division. "I commend the hard work and countless hours put forth by all of the law enforcement agencies involved, which resulted in bringing the defendants in this case to justice."

The maximum penalties for bank fraud are 30 years incarceration and fines of $1 million per count. The maximum penalties for wire fraud are 20 years incarceration and fines of $250,000 per count. Arson is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of five years to 20 years incarceration, and fines of up to $250,000.

The penalty for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to deliver marijuana, 100 kilograms or more, is a mandatory minimum of 5 years imprisonment, a maximum of 40 years imprisonment, a minimum 4 years of supervised release and a maximum $2 million fine. Money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years imprisonment, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the money laundered, whichever is greater.

This two year investigation was the result of extensive cooperation between federal, state and local authorities. The matter was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Michigan State Police, the U.S. Secret Service, and Grosse Ile Police Department. They were assisted in the investigation by Brownstown Police Department, Riverview Police Department, Inkster Police Department, Detroit Fire Department Arson Section, Wayne County Airport Police, Wayne County Sheriff's Office, Hamtramck Police Department, Plymouth Township Police Department and Waterford Police Department.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Source: United States Drug Enforcement Administration

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