Fed indicts 17 in $75 million Charlotte mortgage fraud scheme - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Fed indicts 17 in $75 million Charlotte mortgage fraud scheme

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James Tyson Sr. James Tyson Sr.
Kurosh Mehr Kurosh Mehr
Steven Jones Steven Jones
Victoria Hunt Victoria Hunt
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

17 people were charged in a major mortgage fraud investigation made public by the U.S. Attorney's Office Wednesday afternoon.

The charges include racketeering, investment fraud, mortgage fraud, bank bribery and money laundering.

It's the latest round of charges resulting from Operation Wax House, a mortgage fraud scheme that stole more than $75 million from investors and mortgage lenders.

The federal racketeering indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte on July 26, but remained sealed until Wednesday.

The indictment alleges that the 17 defendants and others were part of a criminal organization, known as the Enterprise, that operated principally in the cities of Charlotte and Waxhaw, and stole more than $75 million from investors and mortgage lenders.

The indictment was unsealed following the arrests this week of 11 members of the Enterprise, including three of its leaders, James Tyson, Jr., his mother, Carrie Tyson, and Victoria Hunt. James Tyson Jr. was arrested on Sunday, October 21st at Washington Dulles International Airport upon arrival in the United States from a flight originating in Dakar, Senegal, which is Tyson's last known residence.

The Enterprise, which operated from about 2005 through the present, engaged in an extensive pattern of racketeering activities, consisting of investment fraud, mortgage fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, and distribution of illegal drugs.

Members of the Enterprise also bribed bank officials and committed perjury before the Grand Jury. The co-conspirators targeted professional athletes and doctors as well as their personal and professional acquaintances and convinced them to invest in a series of sham corporations controlled by the Enterprise.

The co-conspirators stole over $27 million from more than 50 investor victims, including monies that the investor victims were induced to obtain as loans from financial institutions. Rather than investing victims' money as promised, the Enterprise diverted victims' money to finance its mortgage fraud operations and to support its members' lifestyles. For example, members of the Enterprise used the stolen money to purchase luxury vehicles, take lavish vacations, organize extravagant dinners and parties, and invest in other sham businesses or investments. In addition, the conspirators made Ponzi-style payments to other victims.

The Enterprise's mortgage fraud operations involved acquiring luxury homes in neighborhoods in South Charlotte and Waxhaw. One member of the Enterprise would agree with a builder to purchase a property at the "true price." The Enterprise would then arrange for a buyer to purchase the property at an inflated price.

In most circumstances, the buyer would agree to purchase the property in his or her own name and sign whatever documents were necessary, in exchange for a hidden kickback. The builder would sell the property at the inflated price, the lender would make a mortgage loan on the basis of that inflated price, and the difference between the inflated price and the true price would be extracted at closing by the Enterprise.

The 17 defendants charged in Wednesday's indictment and the 14 defendants who have agreed to plead guilty bring to a total of 81 the number of defendants charged in connection with "Operation Wax House" to date. (A complete list of all 81 defendants is attached). Charged in the indictment are:

Ramin Amini, 44, of Tehran, Iran, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Leader and promoter in the scheme. Status: Fugitive.
• Vonetta Tyson Barnes, 38, of Wahiawa, Hawaii, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
• Travis Bumpers, 36, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, bank bribery and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: Fugitive.
• Glynn Hubbard, 35, of Charlotte is charged with Racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: In federal custody, pending release on conditions, following arrest and initial appearance.
• Victoria Hunt, 36, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering. Role: Leader and promoter. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
• Toby Hunter, 37, of Fort Mill, S.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
• Steven Jones, 44, of Waxhaw, is charged with securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
• John McDowell, 40, of Dunn, N.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Arrest warrant issued.
• Kurosh Mehr, 52, of Charlotte is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering. Role: Promoter and buyer. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
• Ann Tyson Mitchell, 61, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering. Role: Facilitator. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
• John Wayne Perry, Jr., 31, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
• Donte Thorogood, 34, of Durham, N.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: To appear for an initial appearance pursuant to a summons.
• Carrie Tyson, 58, of Winterville, N.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering. Role: Leader and promoter. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
• James Tyson, Jr., 32, of Dakar, Senegal, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, bank bribery and money laundering. Role: Leader and promoter. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
• James Tyson, Sr., 61, of Charlotte, N.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
• Nathan Shane Wolf, 41, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering. Role: Real estate agent. Status: To appear for an initial appearance pursuant to a summons.
• Purnell Wood, 41, of Palmyra, N.J., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Arrest warrant issued.

The U.S. Attorney's Office also filed criminal bills of information and plea agreements against 14 other defendants who acted as mortgage brokers, real estate agents, straw buyers, and a home builder in the scheme. They acknowledge taking part in the mortgage fraud conspiracy and have agreed to plead guilty. They are:

• Crystal Goodson-Hudson, 44, of Kannapolis, N.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Shannon Lee (Somer Bey), 47, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Real estate agent. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Robert Mahaney, 52, of Ridgeway, S.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• George Moore, 44, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Kevin Smith, 46, of Oxford, N.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Holly Pasut, 56, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Real estate agent. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Danielle Vaughn, 34, of Greenbelt, Md., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Mary Vaughn, 58, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Jamaine Wallace, 41, of Conyers, Ga., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Phillip Wellington, 46, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• William Wellington, 30, of Amityville, N.Y., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Marcia Williams, 36, of York, S.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Sean Williams, 41, of Orangeburg, S.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
• Mark, Wittig, 41, of Matthews, N.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Builder. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.

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