Plum lawyer pleads guilty to $1.7M mortgage fraud
A Plum attorney has pleaded guilty to operating a complex, $1.7 million fraud scheme whose victims included two of her relatives.
Lisa Gerideau-Williams, 46, of Cherrywood Drive on Friday pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster to 16 counts that included wire fraud, filing false income tax returns and not filing tax returns at all.
The office of U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said Gerideau-Williams used her mortgage-brokering business, Genesis Home Solutions, and her two real estate transaction companies, Millennium Settlement Services and Professional Settlement Solutions, to juggle a “multi-faceted fraud scheme” from 2005 to 2008.
Prosecutors, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan T. Conway, alleged Gerideau-Williams would submit loan applications to lenders that included false information and were made without the borrowers' permission.
Another aspect of the scheme was that she would accept money from lenders that was intended to pay liabilities associated with the collateral.
Rather than paying the liabilities, prosecutors said Gerideau-Williams would keep the money to fund her “lavish lifestyle.”
She is accused of defrauding borrowers who would pay her for title insurance and services such as the recording of deeds and mortgages — services she didn't provide.
Prosecutors said title insurance companies also were victimized because she failed to submit fees for insurance. She continued to issue insurance even after the companies revoked her authority to do so.
“Gerideau-Williams' fraud was particularly egregious related to the property located at 120 Cypress Hill Drive” in Penn Hills, according to the U.S. Attorney's office:
• Before 2005, Gerideau-Williams rented and lived in the house.
• On Sept. 6, 2005, she sold the house from the owner to an elderly relative without the knowledge of either person. A lender financed the fake deal and Gerideau-Williams took the money without recording the change in ownership, making it appear the original owner still owned the property free of any mortgages.
• On March 13, 2006, Gerideau-Williams arranged to buy the house herself, financed through a fraudulent loan. While she recorded the deed transferring ownership to her own name, she did not record the mortgage. Again, it appeared the house was free of liens but now in her name.
• On Aug. 7, 2006, Gerideau-Williams sold the house to another relative, who financed the purchase through a fraudulent loan Gerideau-Williams secured. She received the proceeds from the sale but did not record the deed or the mortgage — making it appear she still owned the house free of any liens.
• On Jan. 19, 2007, and Feb. 20, 2007, she sold the house twice more to the same relative, who again financed the purchases through fraudulent loans secured by Gerideau-Williams.
She again kept the money and still did not record the change in ownership.
Another “equally egregious” part of the scheme involved loans Gerideau-Williams secured in the name of the elderly relative, Hickton's office said.
When she arranged for this relative to buy the Penn Hills house, she financed the loan by offering up the relative's Harrisburg home as collateral in 2005. She secured three more refinance transactions in 2007 using the same Harrisburg house, prosecutors said.
Gerideau-Williams kept the proceeds from the loans and did not record the mortgages. She also issued title insurance without authority to do so, forged her relative's signature and failed to pay the liabilities associated with the collateral as required by the lenders.
Finally, in 2004 she is accused of filing tax returns that grossly understated her earnings and of not filing returns at all in 2005 and 2006.
Judge Lancaster scheduled Gerideau-Williams' sentencing for June 7. She could receive a sentence of as much as 235 years in prison and a fine of as much as $3.7 million.
The Mortgage Fraud Task Force, which is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies plus others involved in the mortgage industry, investigated the case.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.