A Kansas City, Mo., man faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges related to a $14 million mortgage fraud scheme.

Terrell Ford, 33, admitted to participating in a conspiracy in which low-income borrowers obtained home loans or refinancing by submitting fraudulently inflated appraisals and false financial information to lenders.

Eight people have been charged with participating in the scheme, and Ford is the second to enter a guilty plea. Lenders’ actual losses from activities Ford was involved in totaled more than $2.5 million, said Eric Melgren, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas.

Melgren said Ford and others formed an appraisal company, TERM Appraisers, which submitted fraudulent loan applications to lenders. Money from fraudulently obtained loans was deposited in a bank account in the name of Liberty Escrow.

Ford admitted participating in the scheme from Jan. 11, 2002, through Jan. 8, 2004, allowing his electronic signature to be used on a fraudulently inflated appraisal for a Kansas City property, prosecutors said. Ford and others allegedly received more than $199,000 in loan proceeds from another fraudulently appraised property.

At his sentencing in February, Ford faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud charge, and a maximum penalty of 5 years and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge, prosecutors said.

On Nov. 8, Melgren announced the indictment of six other people accused of participating in the scheme. An eighth alleged member of the mortgage fraud ring, Leslie Saunders II, Kansas City, Mo., faces a 20-year prison sentence and $500,000 fine after pleading guilty Nov. 26 to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Prosecutors said Saunders owned a property in the 12400 block of East 58th in Kansas City, Mo., that was used to obtain an inflated loan from Hamilton Mortgage. The loan documents submitted to the lender included a fraudulent appraisal, bearing the forged signature of a supervisory appraiser.

Also accused of participating in the scheme are Wildor Washington, Jr., 37, of Leawood, Kan.; Maurice Ragland, 33, of Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Victoria Bennett, 34, of Leawood, Kan.; Kara E. Robinson-Franks, 37, of Grandview, Mo.; Scott Alexander, 69, of Merriam, Kan.; and Terrence Cole, 41, a Kansas City, Kan. resident.

The six were indicted Nov. 7 for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain $14 million worth of loans on homes in the Kansas City area.

Washington owned Heritage Financial Investments, Legacy Enterprises, B&L Custom Development and Liberty Escrow, and allegedly prepared fraudulent loan applications submitted to lenders throughout the country. Bennett was a loan processor for Washington. Victims included Hamilton Mortgage of Phoenix, Ariz; First Magnus of Overland Park, Kan.; Aegis Funding Corporation of Houston, Texas; National City Mortgage of Dayton, Ohio; Mortgage Solutions of Kansas City, Mo.; ABN Amro in Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Countrywide Home Loans in Overland Park, Kan.

Maurice Ragland owned TERM Appraisers, The Real Estate Group and JTF Enterprises, which allegedly created fraudulent property appraisal reports used to secure mortgage loans.

Robinson-Franks represented herself as a real estate agent and vice president of operations for Heritage Financial Investments and Legacy Enterprises, while Cole was chief financial officer for Legacy Enterprises and treasurer for Liberty Escrow. Alexander was a licensed mortgage broker who owned Atlantic Mortgage.

***

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