Monday, August 29, 2005
Chalana McFarland received a 30-year prison term for her role in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme that skimmed $20 million from the sale of over 100 homes from 1999 to 2002. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia (press release here describing the case in greater detail) called it the longest sentenced ever imposed on a first-time offender in a mortgage fraud case. McFarland was convicted on 170 counts this past February related to her work as the closing attorney on a number of the transactions. At her sentencing, McFarland denied responsibility for the crimes and, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story (here) about the sentencing hearing, said that she was only "an inexperienced lawyer who was duped by her more experienced co-defendants." An attorney's experience does not have that much to do with distinguishing right from wrong, particularly when documents contain falsehoods and transactions are little more than shams. Moreover, after being disbarred in Georgia, McFarland moved her operation to Florida and allegedly asked a man to act as a straw purchaser. (ph -- thanks to a local Detroit reader for passing along the information).