Texas attorney pleads guilty to $5M mortgage fraud scheme

Kirk Brannan pleaded guilty to bank fraud in four-year scheme to defraud Wells Fargo, other lenders

This week, a Lake Jackson, Texas-based real estate and tax attorney pleaded guilty to taking part in a $5.3 million bank fraud scheme involving expensive beach homes in the cities of Freeport and Surfside Beach, Texas.

Kirk Lawrence Brannan, 64, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud charges related to a four-year scheme to defraud Wells Fargo and other lenders. He is out on bond, pending sentencing on Aug. 29, where he faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million for participating in the scheme.

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, Brannan’s lawyer, Samuel Dorsey Adamo, declined to comment after the plea hearing.

Brannan was charged, along with three others, in February 2015 in an indictment alleging that from 2005 to 2009, Brannan sold a number of beach homes that he or family members owned in Surfside and Freeport through a mortgage fraud scheme. Brannan’s co-conspirators, Chucoboie Lanier, 41, David Lee Morris, 55, and Derwin Jerome Blackshear, 50, all from Houston, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the fraud scheme. All three are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 26.

From the article:

According to court documents, Brannan sold 10 top-dollar beach homes in the Freeport/Surfside area to straw buyers between 2005 and 2009. The homes sold for two or three times their appraised values. Lanier, Morris and Blackshear recruited straw buyers to submit loan applications listing fake addresses, employers, incomes which the banks relied upon in deciding to offer mortgage loans.

According to their plea deals, the loan applications indicated the buyers were much better credit risks than they actually were. Brannan admitted in his plea that he paid $2.4 million in kickbacks to the fake home buyers each time a beach home mortgage came through for one of them.

Brannan also produced fake settlement documents indicating he had sold three of his properties to his own children at exorbitant prices. The appraisers relied upon these sale documents when appraising the homes he sold to straw buyers.

The Chronicle also reported that the straw buyers defaulted on each of the mortgages and all 10 beach homes ended up in foreclosure. 

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