U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON—Claymon “Butch” Trammell, along with his wife, Jeannettea Williams, and daughter, Michelle Trammell, have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their roles in a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The three residents of Houston entered their pleas yesterday in federal court before United States District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore.
From 2003 until the end of 2006, Claymon Trammell, 61, conspired with his wife, 56, and daughter, 39, to defraud mortgage lenders. Claymon Trammell and Williams recruited and paid individuals to act as straw borrowers on applications for residential mortgage loans, even though the borrowers had no intention of making payments on the mortgage loans or, in the case of homes supposedly purchased as “primary residences,” of residing in the homes. Some borrowers were used multiple times, including one borrower whose name and credit was used to “purchase” approximately 17 homes. Claymon Trammell pitched the scheme as an investment where the straw borrowers would not need any money down, would not be responsible for the monthly payments and would get money for the use of their name and credit.
At times during the scheme, Michelle Trammell and Williams were licensed mortgage loan officers. Michelle Trammell acted as a loan officer in the transactions and filled out loan applications in the names of borrowers and knowingly provided lenders with false information and documents about the borrower’s employment, income, assets and intent to occupy the purchased property. Michelle Trammell and Williams provided lenders with various documents she knew to be false, including false verifications of deposit, false verifications of rent and false earnest money contracts. There were more than 70 homes involved in the scheme, all of which went into payment default and most into foreclosure. The three defendants caused lenders to fund loans to purchase more than 70 homes in the Houston area and personally benefitted by funneling some of the loan proceeds to themselves via businesses they controlled and/or owned via bogus repair invoices and realtor and loan officer commissions.
For their conviction of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 371, the defendants face a maximum of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, as well as up to a three-year term of supervised release at their sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 5, 2011. As part of their plea agreements, the defendants also agreed to pay restitution if ordered to do so by the court.
The investigation leading to the charges was the result of an investigation conducted by agents of the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Belinda Beek, Jimmy Sledge, and Kebharu Smith prosecuted the case with assistance from paralegal specialist Brenda Williams.