Six men, a Maryland title company and a defunct Virginia mortgage firm were found guilty by a federal jury here yesterday of conspiring to defraud area residents who borrowed more than $10 million from the mortgage firm by depriving them of rights mandated by the federal truth-in-lending law and by charging them annual interest rates of at least 45 percent.
The jury of seven women and five men who heard the four-week trial in U.S. District Court also found each of the defendants guilty of two to 13 counts of interstate transportation in furtherance of fraud.
Southeast Title Corp. of Temple Hills; Nationwide Mortgage Corp., formerly of Alexandria; Norman C. Tillette, 65, 846 S. Gunnel Ct., Herndon; Augustine F. Barquin, 45, 637 Broad Creek Dr., Fort Washington; Roland T. Butler, 38, 1212 Waterford Dr., District Heights; Charles E.L. Clay, 51, White Plains, Md.; Irving Millar, 65, 3410 Willow Tree La., Falls Church, and D. Jimmie Vaccaro, 60, 450 Birch Ct., Waldorf.
Tillette was president and owner of Nationwide and Vaccaro was president and operator of Southeast Title and acted as the settlement attorney for most of the loans. The four other men were agents of Nationwide.
Most of the counts carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Stanley Harris said he would sentence Tillette, who recently was convicted of similar charges in federal court in Alexandria, on April 23, but he did not set a sentencing date for the other men.
The indictment alleged that the six men and two companies sought out prospective borrowers in the District and throughout the area from 1980 through 1983 and promised them easy financing for loans.
The loans usually carried interest-only payments for the first year with a balloon payment at the end of the year for the entire loan principal, but borrowers usually were told not to worry about the payment schedule because the loans would be converted to long-term debt that they would be able to pay off over several years, the indictment said.
The long-term financing never materialized.
The loans, which were secured by borrowers' residential property, usually were for personal or consumer debts, but the borrowers were persuaded to declare on loan forms that they were for business purposes, according to the indictment. When they signed the forms, the indictment said, the borrowers were no longer protected by many of the provisions of the Truth in Lending Act, which deals mainly with consumer loans.
What the borrowers were not told, according to the indictment, was that Nationwide in most cases had prearranged to sell the loans to savings and loan associations and individual investors and that Barquin, Butler, Clay and Millar were receiving as much as 20 percent as fees for arranging the loans. The fees and discounts were deducted from the loan proceeds.
In many cases, the borrowers ultimately lost their homes when they were unable to pay the large amounts owed.