Three Charged in Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – July 22, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — A federal grand jury has indicted DERRICK REUBEN SMITH, MICHAEL GIPSON, and TRINA TAHIR on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with fraudulent mortgages, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

According to the indictment, Smith recruited two individuals to buy two new homes in Edmond in mid-2006 and early 2007 for $425,000 and $435,000 respectively. The builder of both homes agreed that Tahir’s real estate brokerage, T&T Realty, would receive large commissions and bonuses totaling $51,950 and $77,950 respectively. The indictment alleges that after the closings, Tahir caused T&T Realty to write checks to Gipson, an agent at T&T Realty, for $27,059.86 and $58,000 respectively. Gipson then bought cashier’s checks in those same amounts payable to “MP Services,” a business that Smith operated. Smith paid $20,000 to the person who served as the buyer of the first house and used the rest of the money for his own purposes. In short, the defendants are charged with inducing lenders to fund mortgages based on inflated real estate prices and misrepresenting the distribution of excessive loan proceeds to Smith as commissions and bonuses paid to Tahir.

The indictment also charges Gipson and Tahir with fraudulently misrepresenting the source of funds used as a down payment on a house that Gipson bought in Midwest City and charges Tahir with fraudulently disguising the payment of $9,295.52 to a buyer of a house in Oklahoma City as a real estate bonus.

The four wire fraud counts are based on interstate wires from lenders to fund the purchases of the four properties. In addition to the conspiracy count and the four wire-fraud counts, the indictment includes nine counts of money laundering. In each of these, one of the defendants is charged with engaging in a financial transaction designed to conceal and disguise the nature, source, and ownership of the proceeds of the mortgages.

On each of the conspiracy and wire fraud counts, each defendant faces a potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. With respect to each of the money laundering counts, each defendant faces a potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount of the laundered proceeds. Under federal law, each defendant would be required to pay restitution to victims. Furthermore, the indictment seeks forfeiture from each of the defendants in the amount of the proceeds of the fraudulent schemes and in the amount of the property involved in the money laundering offenses.

These charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott E. Williams and Chris M. Stephens.

Reference is made to the Indictment and other public filings for further information. An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innnocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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