Four Detroit area residents were indicted on charges of wire fraud and interstate transportation of money taken by fraud, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Charged in the 14-count indictment were Melvin A. Johnson of Lathrup Village, Mich.; Curtiss Johnson of Novi, Mich.; Brady Muse Jr. of Novi, Mich.; and Lanita J. Gatewood of Detroit.
The indictment charges that from November 2004 through February 2006, these individuals knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders. The loan applications were completed or supervised by Melvin Johnson or Curtiss Johnson at Challenge Mortgage’s branch office in Southfield, Mich., where Melvin was the branch manager and Curtiss a loan officer. Challenge Mortgage was a mortgage broker based in Florida.
The indictment alleges that the loan applications were materially false or fraudulent and that when the mortgage loans closed, Melvin Johnson and Curtiss Johnson benefitted financially through checks made payable to Challenge Mortgage and other businesses with which Melvin Johnson was associated, such as JEM Marketing Realty, JEM Processing, and First United Realty.
The indictment also alleges that the fraudulent information provided in the loans documents included false employers, overstated income, fictitious bank accounts, stolen identities, and information obtained from forged deeds, and that as a part of the scheme, Brady Muse created counterfeit documents to support the fraudulent loan packages assembled by Melvin Johnson and Curtiss Johnson. It also alleges that Lanita Gatewood allowed property she did not own to be titled in her name, and that she distributed the proceeds of the fraud to other participants in the scheme.
The defendants are charged with multiple counts of wire fraud and interstate transportation of money taken by fraud. Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Each count of interstate transportation of money taken by fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The defendants could also be ordered to pay restitution to the mortgage lenders.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more information, visit detroit.fbi.gov.