Former Lee's Summit resident pleads guilty to mortage scheme

A former Lee’s Summit resident today pleaded guilty to inflating property appraisals and supplying other false information to obtain mortgage loans.

Maurice Ragland pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in connection with the scheme that could land him in prison for nine years, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Kan., said today.

Ragland admitted to conspiring with Wildor Washington Jr. to jack up the property appraisals and provide other false information to lenders. In one instance in 2003, they were able to get the Bank of New York City to transfer $145,000 to UMB Bank in Olathe on the basis of the false information they provided, according to the U.S. attorney.

The scheme was aimed at low-income borrowers who didn’t know much about real estate, authorities said. The conspirators urged borrowers to seek real estate loans that were processed by various enterprises that were controlled by the conspirators, including Heritage Financial Investments, Legacy Enterprises and Atlantic Mortgage.

Ragland and his co-conspirators submitted inflated real estate values and forged signatures of licensed appraisers whose identities had been stolen, authorities said. Also, Ragland and others held themselves out as homebuyers and submitted loan applications that contained false information about their income and assets.

Sentencing for Ragland is scheduled for Dec. 21. Co-defendants Victoria Bennett and Terrence Cole also are set to be sentenced Dec. 21. Scott Alexander has already been sentenced to a year and a day. Washington and Kara E. Robinson-Franks are scheduled to go to trial Nov. 17.