Jury returns guilty verdict in Houston deed fraud scheme

HOUSTON, TX – A federal jury sitting in Houston has convicted a 61-year-old Dallas man of money laundering, conspiracy to commit and wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery announced.

The jury deliberated for half a day before convicting Clarence Roland III on all counts after an eight-day trial.

In 2009, Roland began working with co-conspirator Arlando Jacobs, 57, of Oakland, California, in a deed fraud scheme to cancel and dispute mortgages held in the name of Jacobs or others. . During this time, Roland frequently used the pseudonym Joshua Stein, while Jacobs used Caleb Wright or Dexter Ponzey.

According to testimonies, they sought and received help from other co-conspirators to set up more than 11 business entities or front companies and offices with mailing addresses in Houston, The Woodlands and Katy to carry out the scheme.

The jury heard that Roland and his co-conspirators had fraudulently acquired real estate by manipulating and filing fraudulent deeds and other documents. Roland sold the properties and received profits from the sales. The original mortgage liens were not repaid and the mortgagees were eventually defrauded. Some title insurance companies were forced to pay the claims of buyers who had acquired title when purchasing the real estate Roland sold them.

The co-conspirators fabricated a series of documents to falsely create the appearance of transferring ownership of real estate to the shell companies. To do this, they signed documents claiming to represent one of the many entities involved in the transactions. The same names were used as signers on many documents and meant to represent different entities. They were also fraudulently notarized using fake notary stamps.

The defense tried to convince the jury that the law permitted him to file fraudulent documents in real estate records to transfer title to homes on which there were mortgages so that he could then sell them free of those mortgages. They did not believe these claims and found Roland guilty of the charges.

Jacobs pleaded guilty before trial in an unrelated fraud case in the Northern District of Texas and was sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay $7.6 million in restitution.

U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal presided over the trial and set the sentence for Jan. 25, 2023. At that time, Roland faces up to 30 years for conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. and 20 years for electronic fraud. They are also subject to fines of up to $1 million. For money laundering, he faces an additional 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

Previously released on bail, Roland was taken into custody following his sentencing today, where he will remain awaiting sentencing.

The FBI, Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Housing and Urban Development – OIG conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Braddock and John Wakefield are prosecuting the case.

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