Three people convicted by a jury in a Mississippi mortgage fraud case Wednesday, including an appraiser, face the possibility of long prison sentences when they are sentenced in February.
Richard Lucas, the alleged ringleader of the scheme, and Kimberly Castle were each found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, nine counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
Lucas was accused of controlling a scheme in which defendants bought distressed property in Hattiesburg, Laurel, Petal and Gulfport, obtained inflated appraisals, and flipped the properties for a profit.
Appraiser Kenneth Stalnaker was found guilty on nine counts in connection with the mortgage flipping scheme; at least seven other people facing federal charges in the scheme have entered guilty pleas, including some of those who testified against Lucas, Castle and Stalnaker.
Appraiser Jacqueline Mosley, who pleaded guilty in March to a single count of bank and wire fraud, said Lucas would tell her the value he wanted on several appraisals she performed for him, the Hattiesburg American reported.
A third appraiser involved in the scheme, Loretta Joy Champ, pleaded guilty in October to preparing false appraisals for associates and clients Lucas Champ and Mosley were partners in J&J Appraisal Services.
Prosecutors presented as evidence documents including falsified bank and income statements, W-2 forms and Social Security documents, the newspaper said.
Other witnesses included investors and straw buyers, many of whom said they signed documents prepared for them without reading them, receiving as much as $16,000 for filling out applications.
Lucas, Castle and Stalnaker face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on the bank fraud charge, five years in prison on each wire fraud charge, and up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.