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P R E S S   R E L E A S E

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 12, 2013


Former Charlotte Attorney Pleads Guilty Mid-Trial To Mortgage Fraud Related Charges

United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins Western District of North Carolina

Lawyer Was Among 91 Defendants Charged in Operation Wax House

CHARLOTTE, N.C. A former Charlotte lawyer pleaded guilty mid-trial on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, to mortgage fraud related charges, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The former lawyer's plea of guilty is the latest conviction in Operation Wax House, a mortgage fraud investigation which began in 2007 and has netted 91 defendants to date, 72 of which have pleaded guilty.

Michelle V. Mallard, 46, of Charlotte, pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and embezzlement in violation of the wire fraud statute.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today's announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

Mallard's federal criminal trial began on Monday, July 8, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney. Mallard, a/k/a Michelle Crawford, was charged with embezzlement and with serving as a mortgage fraud lawyer for a mortgage fraud cell in the Operation Wax House investigation. According to evidence introduced at trial, Mallard agreed to use her law license to further mortgage fraud primarily in South Charlotte and Waxhaw, N.C. According to trial testimony, the co-conspirators purchased houses at inflated prices in exchange for large kickbacks representing the difference between the true price and the inflated price. Trial witnesses testified that Mallard agreed to pay such kickbacks to other members of the conspiracy and, among other things, accepted bogus checks to make it appear as though buyers had provided money when they had not. According to trial evidence and statements made by the prosecutors, Mallard participated in the mortgage fraud after having stolen over $30,000 from clients by embezzling from her trust account.

Following the presentation of evidence by the government on Monday and Tuesday, Mallard announced to Judge Whitney on Wednesday that she wished to change her plea from "not guilty" to "guilty" on all the counts she was charged with in a second superseding indictment returned by a Charlotte grand jury in September 2012. The remaining five defendants charged in that indictment have already pleaded guilty and are included in the list of defendants below.

Following her guilty plea, Mallard was released on bond pending the scheduling of her sentencing hearing. At sentencing, Mallard faces a maximum prison term of 70 years. In determining Mallard's actual sentence, the Court will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide advisory sentencing ranges. A sentencing date for the defendant has not been set yet.

Following her guilty plea, Mallard was released on bond pending the scheduling of her sentencing hearing. At sentencing, Mallard faces a maximum prison term of 70 years. In determining Mallard's actual sentence, the Court will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide advisory sentencing ranges. A sentencing date for the defendant has not been set yet.

Operation Wax House in the Western District of North Carolina is being handled by the Charlotte Division of the FBI and the Criminal Division of the IRS for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, along with the Securities Division of the North Carolina Secretary of State with respect to a separate prosecution. The Mallard prosecution for the government was being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Kurt W. Meyers and Maria K. Vento.

Today's announcement is part of an effort by President Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), created in November 2009, to combat financial fraud crimes by waging aggressive, coordinated and proactive investigations and prosecutions. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys' Offices and state and local partners, the task force is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

The names and case numbers of the all the defendants charged to date in Operation Wax House are listed below, organized by their alleged role in the scheme.

Attorneys and Paralegals
Crawford/Mallard, Michelle 3:11cr374
Gates, Christine 3:09cr100
Norwood, Kelli, 3:09cr162
Rainer, Demetrius 3:08cr239/241
Smith, Troy, 3:08cr264

Bank Insiders
Brown, Jamilia, 3:10cr124
Eason, Danyelle, 3:10cr116
Henson, Vic. F., 3:10cr124
Jackson, Mitzi, 3:11cr374
Ramey, Bonnie Sue, 3:10cr124

Builders and Sellers
Fink, James, 3:11cr374; 3:12cr239
Jackson, Jennifer, 3:09cr241
Smith, Kelvis, 3:12cr238
Viegas, Jeffrey, 3:12cr298
Wittig, Mark, 3:12cr335
Wood, Gary, 3:09cr208

Facilitators and Financiers
Hickey, Denis, 3:09cr103
McClain, Landrick, 3:10cr124
Mitchell, Ann Tyson, 3:12cr239
Panayoton, Sherrill, 3:11cr176
Taylor, Alicia Renee, 3:10cr124
Wilson, Willard, 3:09cr161

Buyers
Banks, Arketa, 3:12cr297
Clark, Benjamin, 3:12cr239
Hillian, Kirk, 3:12cr83
Mathis, Charles, 3:10cr1
Mobley, Sarena, 3:10cr124
Moore, George, 3:12cr337
Richards, Dan, 3:10cr119
Smith, Kevin, 3:12cr341
Tyler, Glenna, 3:11cr200
Vaughn, Mary, 3:12cr329
Wallace, Jamaine, 3:12cr330
Wellington, William, 3:12cr333

Notary Public
Willis, Anthony, 3:09cr218

Appraiser
Darden, Clinton 3:10cr108

Mortgage Brokers

Bradley, Bonnette, 3:12cr299
Clarke, Linda, 3:10cr120
Flood, Ericka, 3:10cr124
Goodson-Hudson, Crystal, 3:12cr339
Mahaney, Robert, 3:12cr34-0
Scagliarini, Coley, 3:11cr374
Staton, Walter, 3:10cr113
Vaughn, Danielle, 3:12cr329
Williams, Marcia, 3:12cr334
Williams, Sean, 3:12cr336

Woods, Joseph, 3:09cr178

Real Estate Agents
Belin, Chris, 3:11cr374
Clark, Christina, 3:09cr44
Lee, Shannon, 3:12cr338
Pasut, Holly Hardy, 3:12cr331
Wolf, Nathan Shane, 3:12cr239
Wood, Gary, 3:09cr208

Promoters
Amini, Ramin, 3:12cr239
Barnes, Vonetta Tyson, 3:12cr239
Brown, William, 3:12cr239
Bumpers, Travis, 3:12cr239
Carr, Stephen, 3:10cr124
Clarke, Benjamin, 3:12cr239
Clarke, Reuben, 3:10cr120
Coleman, Gregory, 3:10cr118
DeSimone, Frank, 3:12cr239
Dooley, Lorie, 3:12cr239
Hitchcock, Jimmy, 3:11cr374
Hubbard, Glynn, 3:12cr239
Hunt, Victoria, 3:12cr239
Hunter, Toby, 3:12cr239
Johnson, Ralph, 3:12cr239
Jones, Steven, 3:12cr239
Jones, Tyree, 3:10cr230
Long Waylon, 3:12cr239
Marshall, Michael, 3:07cr283
McDowell, John, 3:12cr239
McPhaul, Elizabeth, 3:10cr114
Mehr, Kurosh, 3:12cr239
Mitchell, Ann Tyson, 3:12cr239
Moye, Melvin, 3:12cr239
Myles, Denetria, 3:12cr239
Newland, Matthew, 3:12cr239
Perry, John Wayne, Jr., 3:12cr239
Perry, Kim, 3:10cr25
Phillips, Rick, 3:10cr115
Saddig, Nazeere, 3:12cr239
Sharreff-El, Drew, 3:10cr124
Sherald, Kiki, 3:10cr117
Simmons, Aaron, 3:09cr240
Snead, Todd, 3:10cr124
Staton, Lisa, 3:10cr113
Thorogood, Donte, 3:12cr239
Tyson, Carrie, 3:12cr239
Tyson, James, Jr. 3:12cr239
Tyson, James, Sr., 3:12cr239
Wellington, Phillip, 3:12cr332
Wood, Purnell, 3:12cr239

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


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