Massachusetts Woman Convicted of Mortgage Fraud for Falsely Inflating Income
Celia Thomas of Dorchester, Mass. has been convicted by a federal jury of multiple counts of wire fraud, bank fraud, and theft of public money. Thomas was convicted of mortgage fraud and the theft of public housing assistance money. She was convicted on all counts of an indictment, which included three counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of theft of federal funds. During the period 2003 through 2009, Thomas participated in a multi-stage mortgage fraud scheme, acquiring properties, including her residence in Dorchester, Mass. by providing falsely inflated income figures to the mortgage lenders. Thereafter, she and her co-schemers arranged a series of sham re-sales of various properties, using numerous individuals who served as “straw buyers,” with mortgage loans obtained by submitting false information to the lenders. In several instances, Thomas collected tens of thousands of dollars in “proceeds” from the sham sales. In other instances, the properties were “dumped” by transferring title to a straw buyer and immediately defaulting on the mortgage loans. Thomas, who was employed by Boston Department of Neighborhood Development at the time, collected approximately $60,000 in Section 8 Housing Assistance by using a phony identity, “Fitzgerald Thomas,” to pose as the landlord for her own residence. Thomas faces up to 30 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine on each of two bank fraud convictions; up to 20 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on each of wire fraud convictions; and up to 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on the theft of federal funds (housing assistance payments) conviction.