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Financial Crimes

6 defendants indicted in mortgage fraud conspiracy

GREENBELT, Md. — A federal grand jury indicted six Maryland residents Thursday in a mortgage fraud conspiracy, in which lenders provided more than $3.5 million in fraudulently obtained loans.

This indictment follows an investigation by the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force, a joint-agency task force comprised of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General; the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General; the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation, Washington Field Office; U.S. Secret Service, Washington Field Office; and U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of the Inspector General.

The grand jury indicted Edgar Tibakweitira aka Edgar Julian, Charles Edgar Tibakweitira and Edgar Gaudious Tibakweitira, 44, of Severn; Flavia Makundi, 41, of Severn; Carmen Johnson, 46, of Gambrills; Mokorya Cosmas Wambura, 40, of Mount Rainier; Cane Mwihava, 42, of Bowie and Annika Boas, 36, of Mount Rainier.

According to the 21-count indictment returned June 10, Tibakweitira was a real estate agent for Century 21 Advantage Realty and its successor, Elite Real Estate Group. Tibakweitira recruited his wife Makundi, and others, including Wambura, Mwihava and Boas, to act as straw purchasers of homes. Johnson owned CJ Lending and Able Estate & Company which provided credit repair services.

The indictment alleges that from March 2007 to November 2008, the defendants sought mortgages for properties at values in excess of the properties' actual market values. Tibakweitira allegedly procured inflated appraisals and created false addendums to the sales contracts requiring large amounts of loan proceeds to be disbursed for renovations or repairs. The defendants allegedly used stolen or false identities and false documents including W-2 forms, earnings statements, and bank statements and false credit information to induce lenders to provide residential mortgage loans to the straw buyers. Large amounts of the proceeds of the fraudulently obtained loans were allegedly disbursed from escrow accounts to Destiny Property Management, LLC and Destiny Property Management Company, which were shell companies owned by Tibakweitira, for repairs and renovations that were never made. These funds were in turn paid to the defendants. The defendants did not make or stopped making the mortgage payments and allowed the properties, including 10 Maryland properties located in Severna Park, Baltimore, Hyattsville and Silver Spring to go into foreclosure.

The indictment alleges that as a result of the conspiracy, lenders provided more than $3.5 million for fraudulently obtained loans, which resulted in losses of more than $1 million to the lenders, the Federal Housing Administration which insured some of the loans, and the Federal National Mortgage Corporation (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), which purchased some of the loans in the secondary mortgage market.

All of the defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the conspiracy and wire fraud, as well as a mandatory minimum of two years for aggravated identity theft consecutive to any other sentence. The defendants had their initial appearances in federal court in Greenbelt. Tibakweitira, Makundi and Boas are currently detained and Johnson and Mwihava were released. A hearing was scheduled Thursday for Wambura regarding his detention.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristi N. O'Malley and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory, investigative counsel for the Federal Housing Finance Agency Inspector General.