Greenbelt, Maryland – On December 3, 2018, U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced Michelle Sylethia Jordan, a/k/a Michelle Harris and Michelle Welsh, age 49; and her husband, Michael Paul Anthony Welsh, a/k/a Michael A. Welsh and Michael Paul S. Welsh, age 45, both of Laurel, Maryland, to 57 months and 46 months in federal prison, respectively, each followed by three years of supervise release, on conspiracy and wire fraud charges in connection with a foreclosure prevention fraud scheme. Judge Titus sentenced co-conspirator, Carrol Antonio Jackson, a/k/a Jack Jackson, age 48, of Hinesville, Georgia, to time served, followed by nine months of home detention as part of three years of supervised release. Finally, Judge Titus ordered that each defendant pay restitution of $491,036.87. A federal jury convicted the three co-conspirators on June 20, 2018. After the verdict was announced, Judge Titus ordered that Jordan and Welsh be detained pending sentencing and they were immediately taken into custody.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Richard Parker of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Bertrand Nelson of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG); Postal Inspector in Charge Peter Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Chief Henry P. Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; Sheriff Steve Sikes of the Liberty County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office; and Vernon M. Keenan, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
According to the evidence presented at their eight-day trial, Jordan was chief executive officer and director of MJ Loan Auditor Group, LLC (MJLAG), a limited liability company registered and doing business in Maryland. Welsh was president and chief executive officer of MJLAG. Jackson was the owner and manager of CJ Maxx Group LLC, a limited liability company doing business in Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia.
Trial evidence proved that from August 2012 until February 2017, Jordan and Welsh falsely told victim homeowners that, for a fee, MJLAG could help these homeowners modify their mortgage loans and prevent foreclosure of their homes. Jordan and Welsh falsely represented that MJLAG could help the homeowners get “free and clear” title to their homes, with no debt or liens against the property, and that MJLAG could obtain money from the homeowners’ lenders, typically by suing the lenders. Jordan and Welsh told homeowners that they needed to purchase one or more “audits” of the homeowners’ mortgage loans in order to uncover fraud and alleged illegal acts committed by the lenders, and that these “audits” could be used as evidence in lawsuits against the lenders and in negotiating for a loan modification.
Witnesses testified that as part of the scheme, Jordan and Welsh had homeowners sign a “contract fee agreement” setting out what fees would be charged for the “audit.” The contract fee agreement contained the seal of the National Association of Mortgage Underwriters (NAMU), even though the defendants and their companies had no current affiliation with NAMU. Jordan advised clients to submit baseless complaints about their lender to state and federal agencies, file frivolous lawsuits in local courts, and to stop paying their mortgages. Jordan further advised MJLAG clients whose homes already were in foreclosure proceedings to file for bankruptcy in order to delay the foreclosure proceedings and as part of the process to prevent foreclosure of the clients’ homes. Jordan assisted MJLAG clients in filing for bankruptcy, by preparing bankruptcy petitions and related documents and court filings.....