Millburn Man Charged in $15M Mortgage Scam
Larry L. Fullenwider charged in mortgage fraud scam that also includes attempted murder of a witness, feds say.
A Millburn man is among 11 people who have been charged in a $15-million mortgage fraud scam that involves 11 people in five states, the U.S. attorney's office announced Thursday.
Larry L. Fullenwider, 61, of Millburn is among the group that has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
The group allegedly drafted false documents and used "straw buyers" to defraud lenders. The lenders provided $15 million in mortgages based on the fraudulent documents and straw buyers, Fishman said.
The group also includes a man who attempted to murder a witness to the alleged scheme.
“According to the indictment, these defendants created false documents and used straw buyers to convince lenders to give them $15 million for properties that were worth far less,” said Fishman in a release.
Other local defendants named in the indictments include Willie W. Richardson, 64, of Bloomfield and Dwayne K. Onque, 44, of Belleville.
Fishman said those charged also included Sean A. Souels, 42, of Philadelphia, Pa.; Nancy E. Wolf-Fels, 55, of Toms River; Deborah L. Hanson, 49, of Voorhees; Seth A. Fuscellaro, 39, of Wildwood Crest; and Angela L. Celli, 41, of Somerset, Mass. All were arrested by special agents of the FBI and IRS–Criminal Investigation on July 19.
The remaining defendants included Timothy D. Ricks, 44, of East Orange, Orlando Allen, 47, of Fayetteville, Ga. and Kinard J. Henson, 40, of Ventress, Ala., who was already in federal custody in Alabama.
Additionally, Ricks, Henson, Richardson, Allen and Onque are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Henson also is charged with the attempted murder of a straw buyer who authorities say was a witness to the mortgage fraud scheme.
“Members of the scheme were willing to launder money — and even to kill — in order to get their hands on the profits and cover their tracks. This case illustrates not only the seriousness of mortgage fraud, but also our focus on eliminating the criminal element from our markets to protect the health of our wider economy,” Fishman said.
Wolf-Fels, worked as a mortgage broker in Forked River, for the company Mortgage Now. The Forked River office has since closed.
According to the superseding indictment: "Ricks and his co-conspirators located oceanfront condominiums overbuilt by financially distressed developers to purchase, negotiating a buyout price with the sellers of the properties. They then caused the sales prices for the properties — located in Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood, New Jersey; other locations in New Jersey; and in Naples, Florida — to be much higher than the buyout price to ensure large proceeds. Celli and Fuscellaro helped conceal the true sales prices of certain properties through inflated sales contracts and sale and finder fee agreements."
The scheme involved creating fake W-2 forms, pay stubs, bank statements and investment statements, in what Fishman said aimed to make the straw buyers appear to be able to handle larger loans.
The mortgage brokers — Wolf-Fels and Henson — accepted the fraudulent applications knowingly with the inflated income and assets, Fishman said.
According to the superseding indictment, Wolf-Fels alerted Henson of a federal subpoena. The chain of events in the attempted murder began after a federal subpoena on Mortgage Now on July 30, 2008.
The subpoena sought documents from the purchase of real estate properties by an individual, referred to as L.B. According to the indictment, Wolf-Fels called Henson and said authorities were requesting documents relating to L.B.
Henson, who had recruited L.B. as a straw buyer, contacted another individual to kill the straw buyer, Fishman said.
They then lured the straw buyer to a wooded area in Mobile, Ala. At Henson’s direction and using Henson’s firearm, the other individual shot Henson multiple times, according to the indictment.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The attempted murder of a witness charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; and IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, Newark Field Office, for their roles in the ongoing investigation.