Seventeen Members of an Alleged North Carolina Racketeering Enterprise Indicted on Investment Fraud, Mortgage Fraud, and Related Charges

October 25, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 24, 2012 released the following:

“Fourteen Others to Plead Guilty on Related Charges; Total of 81 Defendants Have Been Charged to Date in Operation Wax House

CHARLOTTE, NC— A federal indictment charging 17 defendants in Charlotte and elsewhere with racketeering, investment fraud, mortgage fraud, bank bribery, and money laundering was unsealed today in U.S. District Court, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. Fourteen additional defendants have agreed to plead guilty in connection with the latest round of criminal charges resulting from Operation Wax House, a mortgage fraud investigation that began in the Western District of North Carolina in 2007.

Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division; Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Elaine Marshall, North Carolina Secretary of State join the U.S. Attorney’s Office in making today’s announcement.

The federal racketeering indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte on July 26, 2012, but remained sealed until today. The indictment alleges that the 17 defendants and others were part of a criminal organization (the Enterprise) that operated principally in the cities of Charlotte and Waxhaw, North Carolina, 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 21, 2012, 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 racketeering charges contained in the indictment are the result of Operation Wax House, an ongoing investigation into securities and mortgage fraud targeting communities in the Mecklenburg and Union Counties of North Carolina’s Western District. The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and IRS-CI, along with the North Carolina Secretary of State, Securities Division.

According to allegations contained in the unsealed indictment:

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 money 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 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 today’s indictment and the 14 defendants who have agreed to plead guilty bring the total number of defendants charged to date in connection with Operation Wax Houseto to 81. 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, South Carolina, 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, North Carolina, 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, North Carolina, 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, North Carolina, 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, 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, New Jersey, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Arrest warrant issued.

Today, 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, North Carolina, 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, South Carolina, 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, North Carolina, 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, Maryland, 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, Georgia, 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, New York, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Marcia Williams, 36, of York, South Carolina, 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, South Carolina, 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, North Carolina, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Builder. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.

The conspiracy to participate in the racketeering activities charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross profits or other proceeds. The securities fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The bank fraud charge carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of criminally derived proceeds. The bank bribery conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. In addition, the guilty plea of any other person is not relevant to the guilt of any indicted person.

Operation Wax House in the Western District of North Carolina is being handled by the Charlotte Division of the FBI, the Criminal Division of the IRS for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, and the Securities Division of the North Carolina Secretary of State. The prosecution for the government is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Kurt W. Meyers and Maria K. Vento and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kevin M. Harrington.

The President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.

The names and case numbers of 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
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
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
Bumpers, Travis, 3:12cr239
Carr, Stephen, 3:10cr124
Clarke, Reuben, 3:10cr120
Coleman, Gregory, 3:10cr118
Hitchcock, Jimmy, 3:11cr374
Hubbard, Glynn, 3:12cr239
Hunt, Victoria, 3:12cr239
Hunter, Toby, 3:12cr239
Jones, Steven, 3:12cr239
Jones, Tyree, 3:10cr230
Marshall, Michael, 3:07cr283
McDowell, John, 3:12cr239
McPhaul, Elizabeth, 3:10cr114
Mehr, Kurosh, 3:12cr239
Mitchell, Ann Tyson, 3:12cr239
Perry, John Wayne, Jr., 3:12cr239
Perry, Kim, 3:10cr25
Phillips, Rick, 3:10cr115
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″

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Charlottesville Federal Grand Jury Indicted Individuals for an Alleged Contraband Cigarette Conspiracy They Organized

July 15, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Virginia on July 14, 2011 released the following:

“GROUP INDICTED FOR CONTRABAND CIGARETTE TRAFFICKING

Four Men Are Accused Of Trafficking Cigarettes from Virginia to Northern States

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA — The owner of a Citgo gas station in Fredericksburg, Va, two of his employees and a man from the Bronx, N.Y., were indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville this week on charges related to an alleged contraband cigarette conspiracy they organized.

In an indictment returned under seal on July 13, the grand jury has charged Vijay Nanubhai Patel, 50, Pullin P. Amin, 30, and Diveshkumar Desai, 23, all of Fredericksburg, Virginia and the Bronx individual, whose identity remains under seal. The grand jury also charged Mars and Roshni, Inc., the company that owns the Citgo gas station.

The three defendants who appeared in court today have been charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes and six counts of trafficking in contraband cigarettes. Patel, Amin, Desai and Mars and Roshni Inc., have each been charged with one additional count of conspiracy in regards to the failure to maintain cigarette sales records.

According to the indictment, Patel is the President of and directs the day-to-day operations of Mars and Roshni, which owns and operates C&J Citgo on Jefferson Davis Highway in Fredericksburg. Amin and Desai were employees of M&R and Citgo and worked under Patel’s management and direction.

From at least 2009, Patel, Amin and Desai purchased cigarettes from several legitimate sources in the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia. The three sellers also purchased taxed and untaxed cigarettes from an undercover law enforcement officers in the spring of 2011.

As part of the alleged conspiracy, the sellers would hold large amounts of cigarettes for cigarette traffickers who would drive to the Citgo station to purchase contraband cigarettes in amounts exceeding fifty cartons (10,000 cigarettes) and transport them to points outside of Virginia, including New York and Pennsylvania, for resale.

According to the indictment, between June 11, 2010 and April 21, 2011, alone, the sellers sold approximately 38,097 cartons of cigarettes to New York traffickers, costing the City and State of New York $4,867,024.50 in cigarette taxes and $431,948.42 in sales taxes.

During the peak of their alleged criminal activity, Patel, Amin and Desai were selling approximately $1 million in cigarettes a month to cigarette traffickers.

Each defendant faces a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for each count they are charged. Mars and Roshni faces a possible monetary fine if convicted. In addition, restitution may be ordered in this case.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and the Spotsylvania County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald Huber and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Ramin Fatehi and Thomas Shaia are prosecuting the case for the United States.

A Grand Jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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