'They hurt a lot of people'

Homeowners relieved, yet still angry, over arrests in alleged mortgage fraud that victimized them

June 14, 2008|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,Sun Reporter

When her husband left for good a few years ago, Nadine Bostic became a single mother, her income suddenly reduced by more than half. Her salary as a cosmetologist barely covered her expenses, let alone the mortgage payments on her home.

"I needed to figure out what I was going to do," Bostic said from Elkridge, where she lives with her 9-year-old daughter and ailing 73-year-old mother. "I went from two incomes for 14 years down to one. I had to regroup."

Bostic's savior, she thought, was Joy Jackson, who helped run a real estate business in Lanham called Metropolitan Money Store that occupied elegant offices in which clients, seated on plush leather couches, were promised help in staving off foreclosure. That, Bostic said yesterday, was where her nightmare began.

Jackson, a former stripper who used the stage name Night Rider, was one of seven people arrested Thursday after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they bilked more than 100 homeowners in a mortgage fraud scheme that netted more than $35 million and that cost many of its victims their homes. Authorities believe it is the largest mortgage scheme in Maryland history.

"They hurt a lot of people," said Bostic, who is a plaintiff in a class-action civil suit against some of the federal defendants. "I never thought I'd ever say I wanted someone to be in jail, but I do. They need to be put underneath the jail. Not on top, not inside - underneath."

If convicted on the federal charges, the defendants face 30 years in prison on each of 15 counts of mail fraud.

"That's not even long enough," Bostic said.

The defendants also face conspiracy charges, and five of them also are charged with laundering money. Federal prosecutors said they expect to make other arrests as the investigation progresses.

News of Thursday's arrests was both welcome and surprising, Bostic said.

"When I was told they got them, I didn't know if I should jump for joy or what," she said. "It was a strange feeling. I never thought anyone was going to do anything."

For the time being, at least, Bostic has a roof over her head but is in a worse predicament than she was before. The title to her home is no longer in her name but in that of a "straw buyer" set up by Metropolitan Money Store, she said. As part of the supposed refinancing of her home, she said, members of the firm forged her signature in order to cash a $67,000 check that had ostensibly been intended for Bostic.

Court documents in the civil suit allege that the operation "has bilked homeowners of millions of dollars in lost equity, threatens these families with imminent foreclosure, and involved the willful participation of so-called real-estate professionals who orchestrated the entire scheme."

Federal and state investigators have long been investigating Jackson, her husband, Kurt Fordham, and other members of the alleged conspiracy. One of the things that apparently drew attention to Jackson and Fordham was their lavish spending. For their wedding at Washington's Mayflower Hotel in June 2005, the entertainment was provided by the singer Patti LaBelle.

Like others affected by the case, Bostic said she realized only too late that, rather than assuming the burden of her mortgage payments for a year as they had promised, the Metropolitan Money Store people simply walked away.

"I guess they thought that was OK," said Bostic, whose mother was released last month after a six-month hospital stay and who cannot be left alone.

"They did it not just to me to me but to hundreds of other people," she said. "How could they have the heart to do that? I would have had money in my savings account for a rainy day to take care of my mother and myself, but it's all screwed up now. I'm in a bad situation."

Jeanette Meadows knows that feeling.

With her father serving in Iraq and money tight at home, Meadows, 19, sounded less pleased about the arrests than weary of the whole affair yesterday as she described how her family became a target of the alleged mortgage schemers.

"They're backstabbers who can't be trusted," Meadows said from her home on Glenarm Road in Northeast Baltimore, a property that has avoided foreclosure only because a lawyer for the family last month asked a Circuit Court judge to invoke a federal law that exempts active-duty military personnel from being forced from their homes.

"You think someone is going to help you, and you find out that you end up with nothing at all," said Meadows, who is studying to be a medical assistant and lives with her mother, Janet, and little sister Khadijah, 14. The girls' father, Ronald Meadows, a Baltimore firefighter serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, did not respond yesterday to an e-mail message seeking comment.

"It's stressful to think we were going to be out," she said. "Now it's good to know someone is taking action and that we're not going to lose our home. But I guess that's still a possibility."


Sun reporter June Arney contributed to this article.

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