The sprawling “Wax House” fraud investigation has sent five more participants to prison.
The eight-year federal probe, which focused on illegal home sales and investment fraud in south Charlotte and Waxhaw, has now led to 89 guilty pleas or convictions. A major part of the scheme involved buying homes at inflated prices in return for kickbacks.
The latest to be punished:
• Matthew Newland, 41, an Iowa man, sentenced this week to 13 months in prison on federal racketeering charges. Newland, who pleaded guilty in June 2013, served as a promoter of the scheme and was paid $400,000 in kickbacks. In another transaction, Newland served as seller of a home, allowing $240,000 in kickbacks from loans to be shared by his partners.
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• Lorie Dooley, 50, of Charlotte, who was sentenced Tuesday to 46 months. She was convicted of taking part in mortgage fraud and bank bribery in which she received up to $90,000 in illegal payments and paid a bank employee $55,000 to draft a bogus letter of credit. Prosecutors say she later attempted to threaten and intimidate the employee.
• Travis Bumpers, 38, of Charlotte, sentenced to 66 months after pleading guilty to promoting both mortgage and investment fraud. Prosecutors say Bumpers received $800,000 in kickbacks, while defrauding 70 victims out of $4.6 million. He has been in custody since his November 2012 arrest.
• Ralph Johnson, 37, of Charlotte, who will serve 27 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Another “promoter” in the scheme, Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Investigators say he helped arrange multiple phony transactions, including arranging straw homebuyers in return for $360,000 in kickbacks.
• Benjamin Clarke, 41, of Atlanta, who received an eight-month split sentence, with two years of supervised release. Clarke served as a buyer on two properties, receiving $200,000 in kickbacks, investigators said.
According to the office of U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, 18 others await sentencing, including three of the scheme’s top leaders. Two remain international fugitives.