Attorney/Defendant Halts Trial, Cops Guilty Plea In Mortgage Fraud Case; Participated In Racket After Having First Ripped Off Clients Of $30K+ From Trust Account
From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Charlotte, North Carolina):
- A former Charlotte lawyer pleaded guilty mid-trial [...] to mortgage fraud related charges, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The former lawyer’s plea of guilty is the latest conviction in Operation Wax House, a mortgage fraud investigation which began in 2007 and has netted 91 defendants to date, 72 of which have pleaded guilty.
Michelle V. Mallard, 46, of Charlotte, pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and embezzlement in violation of the wire fraud statute.
- Mallard, a/k/a Michelle Crawford, was charged with embezzlement and with serving as a mortgage fraud lawyer for a mortgage fraud cell in the Operation Wax House investigation. According to evidence introduced at trial, Mallard agreed to use her law license to further mortgage fraud primarily in South Charlotte and Waxhaw, N.C. According to trial testimony, the co-conspirators purchased houses at inflated prices in exchange for large kickbacks representing the difference between the true price and the inflated price. Trial witnesses testified that Mallard agreed to pay such kickbacks to other members of the conspiracy and, among other things, accepted bogus checks to make it appear as though buyers had provided money when they had not.
According to trial evidence and statements made by the prosecutors, Mallard participated in the mortgage fraud after having stolen over $30,000 from clients by embezzling from her trust account.