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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Annandale business implicated in real estate fraud

Two employees of Ace Title & Escrow of Annandale have pleaded guilty to real estate fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice reported Feb. 19.

A total of four individuals have pleaded have pleaded guilty to conspiring to fraudulently taking over the titles of homes in Washington, D.C., without the homeowners’ knowledge, selling those homes, and keeping the profit. The pleas were accepted by Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.


According to court records, Jamaul Roberts, 25, of College Park, Md., conspired with others to visit the D.C. tax courts to identify properties with overdue property tax bills, states a press release from the Department of Justice. They would use sources such as Ancestry.com and the D.C. property tax database to locate vulnerable properties where they could take over the home’s title without the owners’ knowledge. These homes included those left vacant, passed on to heirs after the owner’s death, or owned by the elderly in nursing homes who did not understand the transactions taking place.

The fraudulent sales were facilitated by two settlement agents, Patricia Mantilla, 35, of Lorton, Va., and Melissa McWilliams, 35, of Chantilly, Va., who worked at Ace Title & Escrow, at 7006 Little River Turnpike. Mantilla and McWilliams “knew the home sales were fraudulent and that the owners appearing at settlement were not the rightful owners,” the release states. “They also assisted the conspirators in hiding profits on the property sales from other parties involved in the sale through fictitious invoices to be paid at closing.”

The conspirators, including Michael Brown, 41, of Hyattsville, Md., recruited straw sellers to sign documents and falsely represent themselves as the owners of the properties. Brown, for example, appointed himself the personal representative of the rightful owner of a property and prepared a fake death certificate for the owner, although the owner was still living. He attempted to sell the property to another member of the conspiracy for $350,000.

During the course of the scheme, numerous properties were fraudulently sold, resulting in more than $1 million in actual and intended losses.

Roberts and Brown pled guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when they are sentenced in May. Mantilla and McWilliams pled guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Mantilla is scheduled for sentencing April 26; McWilliams on June 7.

9 comments:

  1. No surprise here. The word is on the street, if you deal in crap, illegal activities and you want to open low end retail, Annandale and Baileys are for you....we love loan sharks!

    Come join us, we are the depository for all the County's woes, litter, lawlessness and junkyards. And don't worry you wont get caught any time soon, enforcement is down, crime is up! The judges in this County have better things to do, like play golf in McLean.

    All I can say is thank goodness for the Honey Pig, it has put us back on the map and it is the only thing Annandale has got going for it!

    However, it seems that all the negative news is overpowering the dribs and drabs of trickle down improvement.

    I am an Annandale Resident and very dissapointed!

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    1. Wow. That's a pretty negative spin to blame Annandale for some illegal activity that could happen anywhere. The good thing is that the folks were caught and the business shut down.

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    2. Yea, but with the way Annandale has become, and the inaction of our political leaders to help make it a better place, the percentage of things like this happening in annandale increase, along with other corrupt/illegal activities

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  2. I agree with the other two we are declining in Annandale and we do not have any of our leaders ready to step up and work to resolve this problem. According to them there is nothing wrong here. We are being revitalized with the Hess station putting a Dunkin Donuts in. What we need though is have our citizens to have their neighborhood to join the Mason District Council - business to join Annandale Chamber of Commerce or the Annandale Business District. Get involved and work together to get our District back. Our District needs YOU!

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  3. Fair point. How does one become more involved? I find going to council meetings is a waste of time.

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  4. ok, so what have YOU done recently to improve the standard? Bitch about our leaders, have you run for office? Are you a member in the various neighborhood groups or councils? Do something yourself to improve the standard around YOU!

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  5. Perhaps this Newsletter can serve to give advance notice and/or reminders of upcoming meetings so some of us can attend; i.e., reporting upcoming events in advance vice after the fact status (which is appreciated as well.)

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  6. This is the new America, get used to it.

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    Replies
    1. No, it does not have to be that way! Getting use to it is complacency and resignation. Adapting through transitional adjustments are what's needed. Look to our history and you will find the answers.

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