Man Pleads Guilty To Fraud Charge in Foreclosure Scheme

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Lanham man pleaded guilty yesterday to participating in a scheme to defraud people who faced losing their homes because they were behind in their mortgage payments.

Clifford McCall, 47, was the president of a financial services firm that prosecutors say aided in the fraud orchestrated by Metropolitan Money Store, a Maryland corporation that did business in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

McCall, appearing yesterday in federal court in Greenbelt, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Prince George's County, where the company was based, has the highest foreclosure rate in the state, and Metropolitan Money Store promised homeowners across the region help in holding on to their properties and repairing their credit.

Instead, prosecutors said, homeowners in danger of losing their homes were directed to transfer title of their homes to third-party, or "straw," buyers for a year. During that time, the Money Store was supposed to help repair the homeowners' credit ratings and obtain a mortgage with a more favorable interest rate, before returning title of the home to the owner. But prosecutors said the homeowners lost the equity in their homes and did not receive the more favorable mortgages.

McCall is one of nine people charged in the case and the second to plead guilty since the indictments were announced in June. A lawyer and Census Bureau employee, Richard Allison, pleaded guilty this month to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

The unsealed portion of the plea documents does not indicate whether McCall is obligated to cooperate with investigators against the remaining defendants, including McCall's wife, Jennifer McCall, and a daughter, Chandra Jones.

Both have pleaded not guilty, as have the other five defendants awaiting trial, including Joy Jackson and Kurt Fordham, the husband and wife alleged to have masterminded the scheme.

In the hearing yesterday, the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Crowell IV, outlined the fraud and McCall's role in it.

McCall was president of Burroughs & Smythe Financial Services and a director of Fordham & Fordham Investment Group, both of which worked with Metropolitan Money Store. He was paid $10,000 for serving as a straw buyer on one property and was linked to more than $2.4 million in other proceeds from the fraud.

McCall, who will remain free pending sentencing, will face about 3 1/2 to five years in prison under federal guidelines. The maximum prison term is 30 years. McCall is not scheduled to be sentenced until next September -- after the expected conclusion of the trial in the case, set for July.

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