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Nov. 7, 2011

Six Michigan Residents Plead Guilty to Marijuana Trafficking, Mortgage Fraud, Arson and Money Laundering

NOV 07 - DETROIT -- The final defendant in a six-defendant indictment charging mortgage fraud, arson, marijuana trafficking and money laundering entered a guilty plea in federal court today, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced. 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.

The following defendants entered guilty pleas before United States District Judge Sean Cox: Linda Abdullah, aka Linda Holt, age 40, of Inkster (pled guilty to bank fraud, arson, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering conspiracy); Eric Waldon, age 46, of Detroit (pled guilty to making a false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of the United States); Rolando Hampton, age 29, of Inkster (pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana); Felicia Hairston, age 45, of Detroit (pled guilty to money laundering conspiracy); Jacqueline Holt, aka Jacqueline Jones, age 47, of Romulus (pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana); and Andrew Holt, age 73, of Detroit (pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana).

The indictment, unsealed in July 2011, charged 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 pertaining to their employment, income, the source of their down payments and their intentions to reside in the homes. She was also charged with attempting to obtain yet another mortgage loan which was unfunded. Eric Waldon pled guilty to a Superseding Information charging him with making false statements to federal agents investigating the fraudulent loan scheme. The indictment charges further that Linda Abdullah aka Linda Holt 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 charged 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, were 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. In their guilty pleas, Linda Abdullah aka Linda Holt, Rolando Hampton, Andrew Holt, Jacqueline Holt and Felicia Hairston admitted their respective roles in the shipment of marijuana from Arizona to the Detroit area.

Based on their criminal history, if any, and the federal sentencing guidelines, the defendants face a range of possible sentences. Linda Abdullah, aka Linda Holt, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years' imprisonment for both arson and a conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. Rolando Hampton faces a mandatory minimum term of five years' imprisonment for a conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.

Linda Abdullah, aka Linda Holt, remains in custody pending sentencing. All other defendants have been released on bond.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso stated, "This investigation should send a clear message to drug traffickers that no matter how elaborate the scheme, or how diverse the crime, DEA stands ready to work with our federal, state and local partners to halt the illegal trafficking of drugs."

Joseph Pirone, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Detroit Division stated, "This investigation was an excellent example of a partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together to bring down a drug and fraud conspiracy. I fully 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."

"This extensive criminal conspiracy was disrupted because of the outstanding collaboration between various law enforcement agencies," McQuade said. "It is not often that you see a case like this one, involving such different kinds of crimes, but thanks to the cooperation and information sharing between these agencies, these defendants have been brought to justice."

This two-year investigation was the result of extensive cooperation between federal, state and local authorities. The matter was investigated by the DEA, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Michigan State Police, the U.S. Secret Service, Grosse Ile Police Department and members of the Southeastern Michigan Financial Crimes Task Force. 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.

Source: United States Drug Enforcement Administration

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