In Atlanta, 22 defendants were charged by a federal grand jury with conspiracy, bank loan fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in an ongoing legal action relating to a huge mortgage fraud scheme, media reports said Friday.

A 181-count superseding indictment, filed Jan. 26, expands the scope of prior charges to include more than 40 houses and more than 230 condominiums in metro Atlanta involved in the mortgage fraud scheme, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The 22 defendants charged in the superseding indictment are: Marcus C. Alcindor; Christopher Baker; Carl Best; Barbara Brown.; William Chavis; Cheryl Denny; Fred Farmer; Michael Flake; Wesley Golden; Riley Graham; Phillip E. Hill; Cortney Jackson; Christine Laudermill; Rashid Muhammad; James Moss; Julian Perez; Robert Powers; Leslie Rector; Annette Spear; David Thomas; Dean Thomas; and David Van Mersbergen, the Chronicle reported.

In the initial indictment related to the scheme handed down by a federal grand jury in June 2005, in which 19 defendants were indicted on charges focusing on the “4001 Cascade” subdivision in Fulton County, the Chronicle said.

Since that time, three of the original defendants, Jeremy Dercola of Douglasville, Ga.; Wendell Higgs of Suwanee, Ga.; and Brant Petree of Marietta, Ga., have entered guilty pleas before District Court Judge Thomas Thrash based upon their participation in the mortgage fraud scheme, accounts said.

In addition, Christopher Halcomb, a closing attorney from Cumming, and Theodore Tagalakis of Alpharetta, Ga. and Wayne Jenkins of Atlanta, both formally mortgage brokers in Atlanta, have each entered guilty pleas in three related cases involving the same mortgage fraud scheme, accounts said.

Andrew Wolf, a closing attorney from Roswell, has also been charged in a related case with participating in the mortgage fraud scheme, the Chronicle reported.

The superseding indictment alleges that Hill was the owner and operator of “We Build Atlanta Inc.,” “The Estate Firm Inc.,” “Estate Artistians of Georgia Inc.,” “Estates Atlanta Inc.,” and other Georgia corporations and that Hill controlled the affairs of each corporation, the Chronicle reported.

Hill held himself out to be a real estate developer, and either individually or through one or more of the corporations he controlled, bought and sold numerous residential properties in the Atlanta area, reports said.

Hill and co-conspirators allegedly participated in a scheme to bribe a loan officer of Charter Bank and Trust and to obtain two lines of credit using false qualifying information, accounts said.

The Charter loan officer, Frederick Vargas of Boca Raton, Fla., has entered a guilty plea in a related case and is presently scheduled for sentencing in March 2006, accounts said. The indictment further alleges that when confronted by Charter Bank officials, Hill falsely claimed that his interest in a loan owed by the Alcindor-Williams Group LLC related to the sale of lots in the 4001 Cascade subdivision would allow him to pay back the line of credit, reports said.

In the second part of the indictment, Hill and co-conspirators are charged with participating in a scheme to defraud Centrum Financial Services Inc. related to a $1.3 million loan granted to the Alcindor-Williams Group, accounts said.


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