By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 26, 2009
A former stripper accused of orchestrating a massive mortgage fraud scheme pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Greenbelt, admitting that she played a central role in swindling desperate homeowners out of millions of dollars.
Joy Jackson, who lived lavishly while the real estate market boomed, wore a green jail jumpsuit with the word "PRISONER" across her back. She was a world away from her $800,000 wedding at the Mayflower Hotel in 2006, where she was feted by more than 300 guests and serenaded at the reception by Patti LaBelle.
Jackson, 41, who was the president of the Metropolitan Money Store in Lanham, faces a decade or more in prison.
Instead of helping people hold onto their homes, as they promised, Jackson and her co-conspirators took titles to properties, drained them of equity and charged exorbitant transaction fees, according to prosecutors.
Jackson, her husband and several others were indicted in July by a federal grand jury. Six of the defendants, including Jackson's key accomplice, Jennifer McCall, have pleaded guilty.
Appearing yesterday before U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus, Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 30 years. With no known criminal record, she is likely to face a sentence of 10 to 12 years.
Three defendants, including her husband, Kurt Fordham, are scheduled to go on trial in July.
The conspiracy spanned from September 2004 to June 2007. Already, 115 victims have been identified in Maryland, and that number is expected to grow, a prosecutor said. Jackson's sentencing is Nov. 16.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said: "Joy Jackson presided over a 'money store' that was in the business of ripping off homeowners and mortgage lenders by submitting fraudulent paperwork to support over $16 million of loans that were never intended to be repaid."