Former Dallas Cowboys Football Player Charged in $20.5 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Eugene Lockhart and eight others face federal Conspiracy, Bank Fraud, and Wire Fraud Charges.

Palm Coast, FL – September 6, 2009 – In a scene that will likely be echoed throughout Florida and other areas struck by the real estate boom and bust cycle, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas issued a press release Thursday announcing the indictment of former Dallas Cowboys football player Eugene Lockhart and eight others on charges related to an alleged mortgage scheme involving 54 properties and $20.5 million in fraudulent loans.
A federal grand jury has indicted Eugene Lockhart, Jr., 48, a former player with the Dallas Cowboys, and eight others, on various charges related to a mortgage fraud scheme he and the others allegedly ran in the Dallas area from 2001 through 2005, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Lockhart, of Carrollton, Texas, and co-defendant Lendell Beacham, 50, of DeSoto, Texas, were arrested this morning by FBI agents, and will appear this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan for their initial appearance.
All nine defendants are charged in the indictment, returned by a federal grand jury earlier this week and unsealed this morning, with various offenses related to the scheme, including conspiracy, bank fraud and wire fraud. In addition to Lockhart and Beacham, the following defendants are named in the indictment: William Randolph Tisdale, Jr., 45, formerly of Dallas, but currently serving a federal sentence on unrelated charges; Hubert Jones, III, 39, of Garland, Texas; Patricia Ortega Suarez, 55, of Dallas; Suzette Switzer Hinds, 45, of Dallas; Michael Anthony Caldwell, 49, of Arlington, Texas; Donna Lois Kneeland, 45, of Grand Prairie, Texas; and Bryan J. Moorman, 67, of Mesquite, Texas. These defendants, with the exception of Tisdale, are expected to surrender to the FBI tomorrow morning, September 4, 2009.
All nine defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. In addition, Lockhart, Beacham and Moorman are each charged with one count of wire fraud; Tisdale is also charged with two counts of bank fraud; Jones is also charged with two counts of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud; Suarez is also charged with one count each of bank fraud and wire fraud; and Hinds is also charged with one count of bank fraud.
According to the indictment, Lockhart was involved with several real estate entities, including America’s Team Mortgage; America’s Team Realty; America’s Team Funding Group; Ace Mortgage; Cowboys Realty; Cowboys Mortgage and KLT Properties. Tisdale was involved with Pinnacle Development and Realty Corporation; Atilla Capital Corporation; and KLT Properties. Jones was the President of Pinnacle Development and Realty Corporation and Director of Atilla Capital Corporation. Beacham was the owner of Cowboys Mortgage and was involved with Ace Mortgage. Defendants Suarez, Hinds and Kneeland were escrow officers at various title companies. Caldwell was the general manager at New Land National Title and Moorman was an appraiser.
The indictment alleges that the defendants ran a scheme in which they located single-family residences for sale in the Dallas area, including distressed and pre-foreclosure properties, and negotiated a sales price with the seller. They created surplus loan proceeds by inflating the sales price to an arbitrary amount substantially more than the fair market value of the residence.
They recruited individuals to act as nominee or “straw purchasers” or “straw borrowers,” promising to pay them a bonus or commission of between $10,000 and $20,000 for their participation in a particular real estate transaction. The conspirators caused the loan applications for each straw borrower to include false financial information, often including inflated false income figures to conceal the borrower’s true financial condition so that the lender would more likely approve the loan. The conspirators concealed from the lenders the true status, financial condition and intentions of the named borrowers, knowing that loans would not likely be approved if the lender knew the true role, credit worthiness, and risk of each straw borrower. The conspirators falsely represented in loan documents that the straw purchaser intended to use the property as their primary residence, intentionally concealing from lender that each straw borrower, viewed himself as an “investor,” who never intended to occupy the property.
The indictment also alleges that the conspirators caused bogus and fraudulent “marketing fees” to be listed on loan closing documents to provide a means for the conspirators to receive surplus/excess loan proceeds.
The scope of the conspiracy involved approximately 54 fraudulent residential property loan closings resulting in the funding of approximately $20.5 million in fraudulent loans.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted however, the conspiracy and each bank fraud counts carries a maximum statutory sentence of 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and restitution. Each of the wire fraud counts, upon conviction, carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. In addition, the indictment includes a forfeiture allegation which would require the defendants, upon conviction, to forfeit various sums of money, totaling up to $20.4 million.

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