A Charlotte man has become the latest to plead guilty to involvement in the mortgage and investment fraud scheme known as Operation Wax House, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte announced Wednesday.
John Wayne Perry Jr., 33, pleaded guilty Monday for his role in the $75 million Wax House racketeering conspiracy that spanned the Carolinas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
So far, 89 of 91 defendants charged in connection with the scheme have either pleaded guilty or been convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The two remaining defendants are international fugitives, the office said.
Prosecutors said Perry worked as a promoter in the scheme’s mortgage-fraud operation. They said Perry arranged for a straw buyer he had used in other fraudulent mortgage transactions throughout North Carolina to serve as a straw buyer for a million-dollar home in Waxhaw.
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Under a general definition, a “straw buyer” is a person who has no intention of living in a home but allows someone else to use his name and credit history to buy that property, after which there might be a kickback to the straw buyer.
Prosecutors accused Perry of laundering more than $200,000 in loan proceeds through his business account for Perry Masonry Construction. Perry falsely represented that the money was for “brick work” when no brick work was done, prosecutors said. Instead, the money was a kickback to Perry and others, prosecutors said.
The Wax House probe was launched in 2007 and has centered on a scheme that stretched across Mecklenburg and Union counties.
The Wax House enterprise ran from about 2005 to 2012, prosecutors say. The operation involved an extensive pattern of racketeering activities, including investment or securities fraud, mortgage fraud, money laundering and the distribution of marijuana, prosecutors say.
Of those charged, 25, including Perry, are awaiting sentencing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Iranian Ramin Amini, 45, of Tehran and Nazeere Saddig, 41, formerly of Charlotte, are fugitives.
Perry pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and has been released on bond pending sentencing.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the maximum prison term for the racketeering conspiracy charge is 20 years, and the fine could total $250,000.