A former Atlanta real estate closing attorney has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for masterminding a local multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, according to media reports.
Chalana C. McFarland, 37, was sentenced on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft, fraudulent use of social security numbers, money laundering, obstruction of justice and perjury, reports said.
McFarland also was ordered to pay restitution of $11.6 million and ordered to serve five years supervised release, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported.
McFarland has been in custody since her conviction on all 169 counts of an indictment by a federal jury on Feb. 15, following a two-week trial, reports said.
“The evidence in this case showed that Chalana McFarland was a master of mortgage fraud,” U.S. Attorney David Nahmias told the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
“As a closing attorney she (McFarland) had a responsibility to ensure that buyers, sellers and documents were real and truthful, but instead she corrupted the entire system for her own profit,” Nahmias told the Chronicle.
“This is one of the largest cases of mortgage fraud in this district which devastated a number of local communities, and we believe the 30-year sentence in this case is entirely appropriate,” Nahmias told the Chronicle.
McFarland was originally indicted on May 13, 2004, reports said.
A number of other individuals were also indicted at various times and subsequently pled guilty to charges related to the multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme initiated and orchestrated by McFarland, the Chronicle reported.
According to the evidence presented in court, McFarland was the leader and organizer of an extensive mortgage fraud scheme from mid-1999 through late 2002 involving more than a hundred properties in the Atlanta area, the Chronicle reported.
At the direction of McFarland, the defendants defrauded financial institutions and other mortgage lenders by fraudulently inflating property values and submitting false borrower qualifying information to obtain mortgage loans, according to the indictment in the case. The defendants conspired to use either stolen identities and false Social Security Numbers as borrowers or paid straw borrowers to apply for mortgage loans totaling nearly $20 million, the indictment said. False employment, income, assets and liabilities were listed on loan applications to qualify borrowers for these loans, according to the legal papers.
Fraudulently inflated loan proceeds were removed at closing, laundered through The McFarland Law Firm escrow accounts and disbursed to various shell or “air” companies for the benefit of McFarland and her co-conspirators, the indictment said. Most of the properties were ultimately foreclosed by the lenders and sold for significantly less than their outstanding loans, the indictment said.
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