Pair pleads guilty to mortgage fraud

A local man and woman have pleaded guilty to defrauding mortgage lenders.

Anthony Buford, 42, and Jolie Neal, 47, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiring to defraud lending institutions out of $2,779,500 by cheating the system in order to obtain mortgages on three properties they owned and keeping the money rather than paying off existing loans.

According to court documents, Buford worked for Dynus Financial in its mortgage business and Neal owned Tri-State Title Company when they met and became romantically involved in 2003. Neal asked Buford to broker a loan for an additional mortgage on her house. She closed the loan herself and kept the money rather than paying off the existing mortgage. She and Buford conspired to repeat the scheme in order to defraud approximately nine lending institutions beginning from in or about September 2004 until in or about July 2007 for an approximate loss of $2,779,500.

Buford and Neal each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. The maximum statutory penalty for the crime is 30 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or twice the gain to the defendant or loss to the victim, and mandatory restitution. The plea agreement includes a recommended restitution of $2,779,500.

Judge Sandra Beckwith will set dates for sentencings for the defendants.

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