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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monettans face prison time for mortgage fraud scheme

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Monett family of realtors was sentenced Monday in federal court for their roles in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme involving more than two dozen residential properties and earning the mom, dad and son more than $1.3 million in profits.

Charles E. Walker, 58, and his wife, Linda F. Walker, 59, and their son, Lee Edward Walker, 36, all of Monett, were sentenced in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith.

Charles Walker was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Walker to pay $4,345,761 in restitution, which represents the actual losses suffered by the lenders as a result of the mortgage fraud scheme.

Linda Walker was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison without parole. Lee Walker was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison without parole.

According to United States Attorney Beth Phillips, the Walkers each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which was part of a mortgage fraud scheme that lasted from November 2004 to June 2006. Charles Walker also pleaded guilty to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy.

Charles Walker admitted that he led the scheme and personally profited more than $1 million from his crimes. Conspirators were involved in fraudulent real estate transactions on 26 separate parcels of real estate totaling $10,944,023 in mortgage loans.

Court records show that conspirators in the case defrauded mortgage lenders by submitting fraudulent loan applications to purchase residential properties at artificially inflated prices, with a significant portion of the purchase price of each home being returned to the buyer without the lenders knowledge or consent.

As a result of the scheme, conspirators received kickback payments of approximately $4.3 million. Most of the residential properties involved in the mortgage fraud scheme have gone into foreclosure.

Charles and Lee Walker were Missouri board-certified real estate brokers who sold residential real estate through Charles E. Walker Realty, Inc., a real estate company that listed, marketed and sold residential real estate in the Springfield area. Charles Walker was the owner of the firm and Linda Walker was the secretary. Charles, Linda and Lee Walker were also private investors who purchased and re-sold residential real estate through Walker Realty for personal financial gain.

Co-defendants Juan A. Johnson, 43, William Wagoner, 56, and Steve Casarez, Jr., 34, all mortgage brokers, prepared fraudulent mortgage loan applications. Those fraudulent applications included inflated incomes and false listings of assets and liabilities for the borrowers to assist them in qualifying to purchase the homes involved in this scheme.

Co-defendants Vincent Cantrell, 42, and Charles V. Pursley, 84, who were both certified appraisers, prepared falsely-inflated appraisal reports to support the artificially-inflated sales prices of the homes being purchased in the mortgage fraud scheme.

Co-defendants Linda D. Hanks, 41, Frankie R. Powell, 69, Christopher Forrester, 31, Laura Greer, 43, and Tammy R. Fedel, 55, were Missouri board-certified real estate agents who worked at and sold real estate for Walker Realty. They were also private investors who purchased and re-sold residential real estate through Walker Realty. Co-defendants Jess Kevin Cypret, 54, James Powell, 73, Eddie Lee Rohrs, 39, and Robert C. Barnica, 37, were investors at the firm.

The case against the Walkers was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn L. McKee and investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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