HOUSTON (CN) – A federal judge ordered prison sentences against a family of mortgage fraudsters who used “straw borrowers” to steal millions from lenders.
Claymon “Butch” Trammell, 62, his wife Jeannettea Williams, 57, and his 40-year-old daughter Michelle Trammell previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The Houston-based couple got five-year sentences, while Michelle Trammell got three years.
More than 70 homes were involved in the scheme, all of which went into default or foreclosure, prosecutors said.
From 2003 to 2006 “Claymon Trammell and Williams recruited and paid individuals to act as straw borrowers on applications for residential mortgage loans, even though the borrowers had no intention of making payments on the mortgage loans or, in the case of homes supposedly purchased as ‘primary residences,’ of residing in the homes,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
“Some borrowers were used multiple times, including one borrower whose name and credit was used to ‘purchase’ approximately 17 homes.
“Claymon Trammell pitched the scheme as an investment where the straw borrowers would not need any money down, would not be responsible for the monthly payments and would get money for the use of their name and credit.
“At times during the scheme, Michelle Trammell and Williams were licensed mortgage loan officers. Michelle Trammell acted as a loan officer in the transactions and filled out loan applications in the names of borrowers and knowingly provided lenders with false information and documents about the borrower’s employment, income, assets and intent to occupy the purchased property.
“Michelle Trammell and Williams provided lenders with various false documents she knew to be false, including false verifications of deposit, false verifications of rent and false earnest money contracts.
“There were more than 70 homes involved in the scheme, all of which went into payment default and most into foreclosure.
“The defendants caused lenders to fund loans to purchase more than 70 homes in the Houston area and personally benefitted, jointly, by funneling some of the loan proceeds to themselves via businesses they controlled and/or owned via bogus repair invoices and realtor and loan officer commissions.”
Each defendant must pay mortgage lenders $907,000 in restitution.