Saturday, September 08, 2007

Another Real State agent charged for Money Laundering and pleads guilty to Bank Fraud for $ 2,000,000.

(HOUSTON, Texas) – A licensed real estate agent has pleaded guilty to bank fraud and engaging in monetary transactions with criminally derived property, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced today.

On Friday, Aug. 31, 2007, John Turner, Jr., a licensed real estate agent, entered pleas of guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of engaging in monetary transactions with criminally derived property before U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison. According to the plea agreement and statements by the prosecutor in court, Turner arranged for a straw borrower to purchase a residence located at 1603 Cherry Ridge Drive, Houston, Texas, and amended the purchase contract to instruct the title company to disburse $62,000 of the loan proceeds to a remodeling company of the buyer’s choice, ostensibly for repairs and upgrades to be made at the residence.

First National Bank of Arizona funded the $213,377 mortgage loan on Nov. 17, 2006. At closing, Turner submitted a $62,000 false invoice in the name of First Class Construction Inc. for repairs and remodeling. The title company and First National Bank of Arizona were unaware Turner owned First Class Construction Inc. nor that the repairs and remodeling had not been done and would never be done.

Turner took the check to the Money Stop, a check cashing business located on Bissonnet in Houston, Texas where he cashed the check - receiving fifty-one $1,000 money orders, a $365 money order and $9,992 in cash.

According to the charging document, a criminal information filed Aug. 28, 2007, Turner is alleged to have engaged in approximately 44 residential property transactions and fraudulently caused approximately $2,000,000 in excess funds to be paid by mortgage lenders.

Turner faces a maximum sentence of up to thirty years imprisonment, a fine of $1 million and a five year term of supervised release for the bank fraud conviction. He faces up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and a three year term of supervised release for engaging in monetary transactions with criminally derived property. Ellison has scheduled sentencing for Nov. 29, 2007.

The matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigations Division of the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James R. Buchanan.

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