81 Defendants Charged in North Carolina Racketeering Scheme

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of North Carolina (October 24, 2012) -

A federal indictment charging 17 defendants in Charlotte and elsewhere with racketeering, investment fraud, mortgage fraud, bank bribery and money laundering was unsealed today in U.S. District Court, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.  Fourteen additional defendants have agreed to plead guilty in connection with the latest round of criminal charges resulting from Operation Wax House, a mortgage fraud investigation which began in the Western District of North Carolina in 2007.

Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division, Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Elaine Marshall, North Carolina Secretary of State join the U.S. Attorney’s Office in making today’s announcement.

The federal racketeering indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte on July 26, 2012, but remained sealed until today.  The indictment alleges that the 17 defendants and others were part of a criminal organization (the Enterprise) that operated principally in the cities of Charlotte and Waxhaw, N.C., and stole more than $75 million from investors and mortgage lenders.  The indictment was unsealed following the arrests this week of 11 members of the Enterprise, including three of its leaders, James Tyson Jr.; his mother, Carrie Tyson; and Victoria Hunt.  James Tyson Jr. was arrested on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 at Washington Dulles International Airport upon arrival in the United States from a flight originating in Dakar, Senegal, which is Tyson’s last known residence.

The racketeering charges contained in the indictment are the result of Operation Wax House, an ongoing investigation into securities and mortgage fraud targeting communities in the Mecklenburg and Union Counties of North Carolina’s Western District.  The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and IRS-CI, along with the North Carolina Secretary of State, Securities Division.

According to allegations contained in the unsealed indictment:

The Enterprise, which operated from about 2005 through the present, engaged in an extensive pattern of racketeering activities, consisting of investment fraud, mortgage fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and distribution of illegal drugs.  Members of the Enterprise also bribed bank officials and committed perjury before the grand jury.  The co-conspirators targeted professional athletes and doctors as well as their personal and professional acquaintances and convinced them to invest in a series of sham corporations controlled by the Enterprise.  The co-conspirators stole over $27 million from more than 50 investor victims, including monies that the investor victims were induced to obtain as loans from financial institutions.  Rather than investing victims’ money as promised, the Enterprise diverted victims’ money to finance its mortgage fraud operations and to support its members’ lifestyles.  For example, members of the Enterprise used the stolen money to purchase luxury vehicles, take lavish vacations, organize extravagant dinners and parties, and invest in other sham businesses or investments.  In addition, the conspirators made Ponzi-style payments to other victims.

The Enterprise‚Äôs mortgage fraud operations involved acquiring luxury homes in neighborhoods in Charlotte and Waxhaw.¬† One member of the Enterprise would agree with a builder to purchase a property at the ‚Äútrue price.‚Ä̬† The Enterprise would then arrange for a buyer to purchase the property at an inflated price.¬† In most circumstances, the buyer would agree to purchase the property in his or her own name and sign whatever documents were necessary, in exchange for a hidden kickback.¬† The builder would sell the property at the inflated price, the lender would make a mortgage loan on the basis of that inflated price, and the difference between the inflated price and the true price would be extracted at closing by the Enterprise.

The 17 defendants charged in today’s indictment and the 14 defendants who have agreed to plead guilty bring the total number of defendants charged to date in connection with Operation Wax Houseto to 81.  Charged in the indictment are:

  • Ramin Amini, 44, of Tehran, Iran, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role: Leader and promoter in the scheme.¬† Status: Fugitive.
  • Vonetta Tyson Barnes, 38, of Wahiawa, Hawaii, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • Travis Bumpers, 36, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, bank bribery and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status: Fugitive.
  • Glynn Hubbard, 35, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status:¬† In federal custody, pending release on conditions, following arrest and initial appearance.
  • Victoria Hunt, 36, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering.¬† Role: Leader and promoter.¬† Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • Toby Hunter, 37, of Fort Mill, S.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • Steven Jones, 44, of Waxhaw, is charged with securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Promoter.¬† Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • John McDowell, 40, of Dunn, N.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status: Arrest warrant issued.
  • Kurosh Mehr, 52, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering.¬† Role:¬† Promoter and buyer.¬† Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • Ann Tyson Mitchell, 61, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering.¬† Role: Facilitator.¬† Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • John Wayne Perry Jr., 31, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • Donte Thorogood, 34, of Durham, N.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status: To appear for an initial appearance pursuant to a summons.
  • Carrie Tyson, 58, of Winterville, N.C., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering.¬† Role: Leader and promoter.¬† Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.¬†
  • James Tyson Jr., 32, of Dakar, Senegal, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, bank bribery and money laundering.¬† Role: Leader and promoter.¬† Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • James Tyson, Sr., 61, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors and money laundering.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status:¬† Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • Nathan Shane Wolf, 41, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering.¬† Role: Real estate agent.¬† Status: To appear for an initial appearance pursuant to a summons.
  • Purnell Wood, 41, of Palmyra, N.J., is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering.¬† Role:¬† Promoter.¬† Status:¬† Arrest warrant issued.

Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also filed criminal bills of information and plea agreements against 14 other defendants who acted as mortgage brokers, real estate agents, straw buyers and a home builder in the scheme.  They acknowledge taking part in the mortgage fraud conspiracy and have agreed to plead guilty.  They are:

  • Crystal Goodson-Hudson, 44, of Kannapolis, N.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role: Mortgage broker.¬† Status:¬† To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Shannon Lee (Somer Bey), 47, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Real estate agent.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Robert Mahaney, 52, of Ridgeway, S.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and¬† money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Mortgage broker.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • George Moore, 44, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Buyer.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Kevin Smith, 46, of Oxford, N.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Buyer.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Holly Pasut, 56, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Real estate agent.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Danielle Vaughn, 34, of Greenbelt, Md., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and¬† money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Mortgage broker.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Mary Vaughn, 58, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Buyer.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Jamaine Wallace, 41, of Conyers, Ga., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy.¬† Role: Buyer.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Phillip Wellington, 46, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role: Promoter.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • William Wellington, 30, of Amityville, N.Y., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Buyer.¬† Status:¬† To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Marcia Williams, 36, of York, S.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Mortgage broker.¬† Status:¬† To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Sean Williams, 41, of Orangeburg, S.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.¬† Role:¬† Mortgage broker.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Mark, Wittig, 41, of Matthews, N.C., is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy.¬† Role: Builder.¬† Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.

The conspiracy to participate in the racketeering activities charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross profits or other proceeds.  The securities fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The bank fraud charge carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.  The wire fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of criminally derived proceeds.  And, the bank bribery conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  In addition, the guilty plea of any other person is not relevant to the guilt of any indicted person.

Operation Wax House in the Western District of North Carolina is being handled by the Charlotte Division of the FBI and the Criminal Division of the IRS for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, and the Securities Division of the North Carolina Secretary of State.  The prosecution for the government is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Kurt W. Meyers and Maria K. Vento and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kevin M. Harrington.

The President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.

Comments (1)

  • Wife In NC

    Finally, my prayers have been answered. Travis Bumpers hired my husband as a representative of his fraudulent company. We were unaware at the time of what was going on. Because of Travis Bumpers my husband is serving 8 years in prison. My kids have been without their father and my husband has lost years behind bars. I hope justice will be served.

    Reply

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