5 accused of bank, mail fraud
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Five people, including three from Union County, were arrested Tuesday in connection with allegedly using fake money orders, cashier’s checks, receipts and other fabricated documents to fraudulently pay for mortgages, student loans and other financial obligations.
According to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, Melissa Reynolds, 42, of Elizabeth, was charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud, two counts of bank fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of making false statements to the United States.
Germaine King, 40, also of Elizabeth, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of making false statements to the United States, Carpenito said.
Henry Grady James IV, 43, of Hillside, and Arthur N. Martin III, of West Orange, were both charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud and Daniel K. Dxrams, 39, of Maplewood, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
All five defendants were expected to appear Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.
According to the complaint, Reynolds, King, James, Martin, Dxrams and others allegedly used fake money orders, cashier’s checks and other phony documents to fraudulently pay their debts or other obligations.
In total, Reynolds and other conspirators allegedly caused and attempted to cause more than $3 million in losses.
For example, in March 2013, Reynolds obtained a $417,276 mortgage from an entity referred to in the complaint as “Financial Institution One,” for the purchase of her Elizabeth home.
In May 2014, Reynolds mailed a fake money order in the amount of $432,000 to Financial Institution One to payoff the mortgage. The money order falsely claimed to have been issued or processed by the IRS.
Financial Institution One’s mortgage business erroneously accepted the fake payment and credited it as a payoff for her mortgage. Financial Institution One also mailed Reynolds an overpayment refund of $9,789. When Financial Institution One’s mortgage business filed a suit seeking to reinstate the fraudulently discharged mortgage, Reynolds and King continued to allege in court that the mortgage had been paid and even submitted a phony receipt for the bogus money order.
Reynolds and others unsuccessfully used the same scheme to seek the discharge of other mortgages, including Reynolds’ second home in Newark, the residence of an individual in Bowie, Maryland, James’ home in Hillside and Martin’s home in West Orange.
Reynolds also sought to fraudulently discharge more than $52,000 in student loans with fraudulent money orders and cashier’s checks. For example, on March 20, 2017, Reynolds sent a fraudulent cashier’s check in the amount $67,000 to the Department of Education’s processing company. The payment was rejected.
Reynolds, King, and Dxrams conspired to fraudulently obtain luxury cars in a similar fashion. For instance, Reynolds sent a bogus $101,000 cashier’s check to a finance company that enabled Dxrams to obtain a 2012 Bentley. Dxrams sold the car to a third party for approximately $85,000 and then issued a bank check to King for approximately $25,000. The defendants also used this scheme in an effort to fraudulently obtain two Mercedes-Benz cars.
If convicted, the bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy charges are punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The mail fraud and mail fraud conspiracy charges are punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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