Rolando Alonzo Cousins of Bowie, Md., has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with a massive mortgage fraud scheme which promised to help homeowners facing foreclosure keep their homes and repair their damaged credit, but left them homeless and with no equity. With Cousins’ plea all 11 defendants in the Metropolitan Money Store case have now been convicted.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Irvine of the U.S. Secret Service - Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Barbara Golden of the U.S. Secret Service - Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; and Sarah Bloom Raskin, Commissioner of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Financial Regulation.
According to Cousins’ plea agreement, he was the senior loan officer with the Metropolitan Money Store, located in Lanham, Md., which offered foreclosure consultation and credit services to financially distressed homeowners. Cousins also owned and operated Prosper Investments LLC. In 2005, Joy Jackson and Jennifer McCall incorporated Metropolitan Money Store. Also at that time, Jackson, Jennifer McCall, Jackson’s husband, Kurt Forham, and McCall’s husband, Clifford McCall and others incorporated Fordham & Fordham Investment Group Ltd. (F&F) and Burroughs & Smythe Financial Services Inc. (B&S), based in Lanham and Greenbelt, Md., to assist Metropolitan Money Store in its foreclosure consulting and credit servicing business.
From September 2004 through June 2007, Cousins, Jackson, McCall and others, operating through several companies, including the Metropolitan Money Store, fraudulently promised to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, keep their homes and repair their damaged credit, by directing the homeowners to allow title to their homes to be put in the names of third party purchasers (the straw buyers) for a one year period, during which time the defendants would help the homeowners obtain more favorable mortgages, improve their credit rating and eventually return title to their homes to them. Cousins, Jackson, McCall and others told the homeowners that the equity withdrawn from the properties would be used to pay the mortgage and expenses on their homes and to repair their credit.
Cousins and other Metropolitan Money Store employees personally served as a straw buyer on several properties in Maryland, because they had good credit history. Cousins and other straw buyers were paid approximately $10,000 to participate in the scheme; fraudulently bolstered the credit of the straw buyers so they could qualify for more favorable mortgages; obtained fraudulently inflated loans on the properties in the straw buyers names; served as straw buyers themselves; stripped away the bulk of the homeowners equity proceeds and converted that money to their own personal use; and stopped making the mortgage payments on the homes, resulting in the homes being foreclosed upon.
The total loss attributable to Cousins from the scheme, including the estimated losses to the mortgage lenders, is $471,702.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein expressed special appreciation to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Financial Regulation Investigative Unit for its assistance in the investigation.
Cousins faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus scheduled sentencing for Sept. 13, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. Joy Jackson and Jennifer McCall pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme and were sentenced to 151 months in prison and 135 months in prison, respectively. Nine other coconspirators also have pleaded guilty and been sentenced.
For more information, visit http://baltimore.fbi.gov.