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Real estate lawyer charged in mortgage fraud

By Jenifer B. McKim
Globe Staff / September 10, 2010

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Federal charges against a Framingham real estate lawyer this week bring to four the number of people charged in an expanding mortgage fraud case that led to scores of abandoned and foreclosed properties in Dorchester and Roxbury.

Michael R. Anderson, 41, was charged Wednesday in US District Court with 27 counts of wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering in the case involving Michael David Scott, a Mansfield developer who was indicted separately in August for allegedly working with associates to recruit “straw buyers’’ to purchase condominiums with fraudulently obtained documents.

Virginia real estate recruiter Jerrold Fowler and a former Bank of America Corp. manager, Arthur Samuels, also were charged in separate complaints in US District Court for their roles in what prosecutors say was a fraud scheme that drew buyers to purchase properties they weren’t planning to live in or even make mortgage payments to lenders.

Scott, Anderson, and others are alleged to have arranged for buyers to obtain mortgages with false information, including documentation that showed they intended to live in the condos, had sufficient money in the bank, and covered down payments and closing costs, according to the federal charges. According to prosecutors, buyers were actually assured they would not have to finance the homes in any way, the mortgages would be covered by payments from tenants, and that they would share in the profits when the properties were resold.

Attorneys for Anderson, Scott, and Samuels could not be reached for comment. Fowler’s attorney, James Budreau, declined to respond to the charges.

News about the building federal case was applauded yesterday by some of the original investors, many of whom live out of state. Anthony Freeman of Virginia said he was pleased that the defendants will not be able to “harm any others.’’

Freeman, who bought two Dorchester condos mentioned in the charges against Anderson, said he was lured by Scott and his team into buying the properties in 2007, wrongly believing they were legal real estate investments.

Freeman, now 32, was earning about $25,000 a year at the time he was able to qualify for two mortgages totaling more than $451,000. He did not use any of his own money to buy the condos, despite real estate documents that showed he paid closing costs and down payments.

Both units eventually went into foreclosure. Freeman said his credit has been ruined and he is struggling to deal with the repercussions of his mistakes.

The US actions come more than eight months after a Globe investigation reported allegations that Scott, 44, lead a team of partners to defraud mortgage lenders by converting about 50 buildings into 170 condos.

Many of the deals involved a group of key players, including Anderson, who served as closing attorney on many of the transactions, working out of a Stoneham office. Some units were sold at market prices, but were uninhabitable; more than 100 went into foreclosure.

Anderson also was a defendant in a civil case filed by a Virginia couple in 2008 against him, Scott, Fowler, and others. The couple claimed they were tricked into buying four Boston-area properties under false pretenses. Anderson eventually settled for a small amount of money and was dismissed from the suit, according to the couple’s attorney, Evans Carter.

If convicted, Anderson faces 10 to 30 years in prison for each count.

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com.