Central Figure's Sister Pleads Guilty, Will Aid Mortgage Fraud Prosecutors

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 11, 2008

The sister of a man at the center of a major prosecution of alleged mortgage fraud in Maryland pleaded guilty yesterday and agreed to cooperate against her brother and other defendants in the case.

Katisha M. Fordham, 35, admitted her role in the scheme as she pleaded in federal court in Greenbelt to one count of conspiracy in the fraud allegedly orchestrated by her brother, Kurt Fordham, and his wife, Joy Jackson.

Jackson was president of Metropolitan Money Store, a company that purported to provide assistance to people in danger of losing their homes. Prosecutors allege that instead of helping people hold on to their homes, Metropolitan Money Store drained equity out of the properties and imposed exorbitant transaction fees on desperate homeowners, leaving them worse off.

The scheme began in September 2004, according to prosecutors, and Jackson hired Katisha Fordham in December 2005 to work as a loan processor.

The following March, Katisha Fordham agreed to serve as the buyer of record for five distressed properties, saying in each transaction that she could pay the mortgage and would live in the house, even though she had no intention of doing either, according to documents filed in court as part of her plea agreement. For her role as a so-called straw buyer, she was paid $10,000 for each of the five houses, according to the documents.

Katisha Fordham is the fourth defendant in the case to plead guilty, a decision that could require her to testify against her brother at trial.

Fordham declined to comment as she left the courtroom. She faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, although under federal guidelines her sentence is likely to be much shorter, and prosecutors said her cooperation could result in a reduced sentence.

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