Houston Man Becomes Fugitive Following Fraud Conviction
June 8th, 2017 by Tad Nelson in White Collar Crime
Fraud is perhaps the most common type of white collar crime prosecuted in Texas. Fraud takes many forms. But the essential nature of fraud is that it involves acquiring the property of another through false pretenses.
Fraud is also not just a matter of Texas law. Anyone who defrauds a financial institution–i.e., a bank–or uses any means of interstate communication to commit fraud may face federal criminal charges. And federal penalties are notably harsh. For instance, bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Defendant Receives 22 Years After Failing to Appear at Sentencing
While it is important to assert your constitutional rights when accused of criminal fraud, you must also respect the judicial system. Running away will not solve your problem. Unfortunately, a defendant in a recent Houston case did not heed this lesson and is now a fugitive from the law.
This particular defendant was indicted with another person for operating a mortgage fraud scheme. According to the United States Attorney’s Office in Houston, the two defendants “recruited straw borrowers to purchase residential properties” in the area. They obtained mortgage loans using the names and good credit of these straw borrowers. The indictment alleged the defendants sent “false and fraudulent statements” to the lenders as part of their scheme.
Ultimately, the U.S. Attorney said the defendants obtained more than $13 million in fraudulent loans, which were never repaid and fell into default.
Both defendants pleaded guilty in federal court. One defendant received a 14-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay nearly $5.3 million in restitution. The other defendant, who pleaded guilty to bank fraud, failed to appear at his sentencing hearing. In his absence, the judge sentenced him to nearly 22 years in prison and ordered restitution of over $5.4 million. Separately, a grand jury indicted the defendant for his failure to appear. Under federal law, a “flight to avoid prosecution” is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, in addition to any sentence from the original crime.
Have You Been Accused of Fraud?
Nobody wants to face the possibility of going to jail. But avoiding prosecution is never the answer. If you have been accused of fraud, the best thing that you can do is speak with an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer who will fight to protect your rights. Call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Houston, Galveston, or League City today if you need to speak with an attorney right away.