Stone Mountain man gets 9 years in mortgage-fraud scheme

Stone Mountain man gets 9 years in mortgage-fraud scheme

A Stone Mountain man was sentenced to nine years in federal prison as head of a metro Atlanta mortgage-fraud ring that caused more than $5.8 million in losses for financial institutions, prosecutors said Friday.

Chiedu “George” Chukwuka, 47, and his co-defendants and co-conspirators recruited straw sellers and purchasers who targeted bank-owned or distressed property. Straw purchasers obtained loans for homes sold by straw sellers at inflated prices, with lenders paying the loan proceeds to the straw sellers, according to U.S. Attorney John Horn and information presented in court.

After the proceeds were pocketed, the properties were allowed to go into foreclosure, Horn said. Loans were obtained with false income, fake employment and fraudulent net worth data.

“At the height of the recent mortgage-fraud crisis, this property-flipping scheme caused scores of homes to fall into foreclosure, costing financial institutions millions of dollars in losses,” Horn said in an email.

The scheme was carried out from 2006 to 2011, prosecutors said.

Chukwuka, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in August, was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,868,243.80.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. also has sentenced Chukwuka’s co-conspirators to prison:

  • Shelly Gee, also known as Shelly Baker, 48, of Atlanta, was sentenced on Nov. 10, to one year, six months in prison, to be followed by three years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution of $2,243,909.99.
  • Sandra Petgrave, 43, of Stone Mountain, was sentenced on Dec. 4 to one year, six months in prison, to be followed by three years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution of $1,051,970.77.
  • Kennedy Simmonds, 54, of Snellville, was sentenced on Dec. 17, to three years, 10 months in prison, to be followed by three years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution of $5,868,243.80.
  • Marcelle Welch, 37, of Stone Mountain, was sentenced on Dec. 17 to two years, three months in prison, followed by three years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $2,554,189.25.
  • Leah Freeman, 43, of Atlanta,was sentenced on Dec. 17, to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution of $1,828.532.94.
  • In a related case, Chinedum Oli, 42, of Snellville, was sentenced Feb. 19, 2013, to five years in prison, followed by five years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution of $4,373,281.63.

Weather and Traffic