(Source: By Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press (MCT) – A Fenton man pleaded guilty Thursday to running a massive mortgage fraud scheme that cost lenders more than $100 million in losses — some of which was used to buy cars, boats, trips and a helicopter for several con artists who were in on the scam, according to authorities.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the ringleader, Ronnie E. Duke, 45, ran a nearly four-year scheme with eight others that involved more than 500 fraudulent mortgage loans, more than 100 straw buyers and roughly 180 residential properties in metro Detroit. The properties were used as, or falsely portrayed as, collateral for the loans, most of which went into default and foreclosure, authorities said.
The loans ranged from $350,000 to $600,000, triggering more than $100 million in losses to the lenders.
“Mortgage fraud harms our community because foreclosures lead to vacant homes, which lower property values and serve as havens for criminal activity,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement.
According to court documents, the scheme ended in July 2007 when the FBI executed seven search warrants in metro Detroit and Florida.
Duke’s coconspirators have pleaded guilty. They are: William Wells III, 42, of Howell; Wilinevah Richardson, 34, of Davison, who was sentenced to five years in prison; Ryan Zundel, 38, of Brewton, Ala.; Nicole Rothe, 33, of Gibraltar; Anthony Peters, 74, of Monroe; Donna Walbrook, 50, of Westland; Harold Larsen Jr., 46, of Westland, and Hussein Abdul-Majid Bazzi, 36, of Inkster, who was sentenced to two years in prison.
Duke faces 10-15 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in November.
©2012 the Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services