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P R E S S   R E L E A S E


June 25, 2013


CINCINNATI Sylvia Odia Thomas, 40, formerly of West Chester, Ohio was sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $313,021 in restitution to lenders and $95,422.14 to the IRS for crimes she committed as part of a mortgage fraud scheme.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Kathy A. Enstrom, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS), and Christopher White, Assistant Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge Herman J. Weber.

Thomas pleaded guilty on November 6, 2012 to one count of mail fraud and one count of filing false income tax returns. She committed both crimes in connection with her business as a mortgage broker. "She habitually falsified documentation for loan applications for her clients and failed to report her correct income to the IRS," Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Mangan wrote in a memorandum filed with the court prior to sentencing.

Thomas willfully filed false federal income tax returns with the IRS for the 2006 through 2009 income tax years. These federal income tax returns did not include substantial amounts of additional income that was paid to Thomas in the form of broker closing and processing fees that were obtained from brokering and closing client loans. In total, Thomas underreported her gross receipts by $312,882 for the 2006 through 2009 income tax years, resulting in a tax loss of $95,422.14. The Court determined the amount of loss for her mortgage fraud was $313,021.

Thomas operated a home renovation company and later started her own mortgage brokerage business. Eventually, she began writing false income and employment information on loan applications in order to get her clients approved. This practice also involved fabricating false supporting documents that were sent to the lenders. She also engaged in creating false down payments for her clients by making cashier's checks to look like earnest money from the clients. When agents executed a search warrant at her home, they found numerous cut-and-paste documents related to this fraudulent scheme.

Antonio Weathers, 41, of Cincinnati, Ohio has pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and to one count of money laundering in connection with the same mortgage fraud scheme. The guilty plea was entered before Chief U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott on April 8, 2013. Weathers faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. A date for his sentencing has not been set.

According to court documents, Weathers formed a real estate business in which he arranged for the purchase and resale of mostly low income properties. Weathers transferred $42,532.43 in mail fraud proceeds from one bank account to another bank account in the name of Antonio Weathers, d/b/a, KI Enterprises.

"These types of crimes create a significant loss of tax revenue, drive buyers into foreclosure, and leave lenders burdened with bad loans," said Kathy A. Enstrom, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. "Criminal Investigation remains committed to pursuing financial investigations into such crimes."

U.S. Attorney Stewart commended Assistant United States Attorney Mangan who represented the U.S. in the case, and the cooperative investigation conducted by IRS Special Agents and Postal Inspectors.

Source: United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio

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