Housing MarketMortgage

Ex-MBA prez Ronald McCord to pay $52M mortgage fraud penalty

Ronald McCord pocketed escrow funds to pay for son's Oklahoma City home, Colorado vacation home

A federal judge ordered Ronald McCord, the founder of Oklahoma City-based lender and servicer First Mortgage Company, who was also once the president of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), to pay $51.8 million in restitution for mortgage fraud.

United States District Judge Robin Cauthron ordered McCord also serve 8.5 years in prison — the maximum the federal government said it would seek — as well as three years of supervised release. McCord’s penalty is dwarfed by the $95 million that Cauthron found he cost local banks, financial institutions and homeowners, during his sentencing in the Western District of Oklahoma on Monday.

In June 2020, a federal grand jury returned indictments charging McCord with having defrauded mortgage lenders Spirit Bank and Citizens State Bank, as well as Fannie Mae and others over the course of three years. McCord pleaded guilty in May to selling more than $14.1 million in Spirit and Citizens loans “out of trust.”

Instead of repaying those loans when the mortgages were refinanced or paid off, he released the mortgages at two properties in Leland and Denver, North Carolina.

When Spirit and Citizens discovered the scheme, the two lenders canceled future warehouse loans to First Mortgage Company and required McCord to assign the mortgages to the banks. First Mortgage Company still had $340 million in outstanding balances on Spirit and Citizens’ lines of credit at the time of the federal lawsuit’s discovery.

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In early 2017, after Spirit and Citizens stopped funding his company’s mortgages, McCord sought a new warehouse lender. He set his sights on CapLOC, a North Carolina-based mortgage lender, and tried to sell CapLOC First Mortgage Company’s lending arm. According to McCord, he made false statements to CapLOC in an attempt to seal the deal.

“This was a carefully calculated scheme by which the defendant defrauded local banks out of tens of millions of dollars, made false statements to a financial institution, diverted escrow monies intended to pay homeowners’ taxes and insurance premiums to cover his company’s operating expenses, and then laundered the proceeds to fund his lavish lifestyle,” acting U.S. attorney Robert Troester said in a prepared statement.

McCord also defrauded Fannie Mae, through First Mortgage Company’s mortgage servicing arm.

His company serviced about 12,000 loans totaling $1.8 billion for the government-sponsored enterprise. McCord used escrow accounts, meant to pay homeowners’ taxes and insurance premiums, to cover his company’s operating expenses. As a result, he bounced checks to more than 60 taxing authorities, causing borrowers to default on their taxes.

McCord then laundered the proceeds and diverted them toward paying more than half the purchase price of his son’s $900,000 Oklahoma City home, and the construction of his custom vacation home in Colorado.

Separate from his corrupt business ventures, McCord served as the president of the MBA in 1997. The position at the time was a volunteer role, unlike the lobbying group’s current office of president, which is a paid staff position.

The investigation which produced the case was a collaboration between the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Oklahoma City office, and the offices of inspector general at both the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

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