Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

            WASHINGTON – Franklin Olaitan, 50, of Beltsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty in federal court, late yesterday, to one count of wire fraud related to the theft of a residence located in Northwest Washington D.C.  As part of the guilty plea, the defendant admitted he caused the filing of a false deed transferring the property, which he immediately resold to a third-party, pocketing the sale proceeds. As a result of the fraudulent scheme, the defendant caused over a half-million dollars in loss to the various victims.

            The guilty plea was entered before U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled in early 2024 before U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman.

            According to the Statement of the Offense, the property located on First Street N.W. (the “First Street property”), was purchased by Person 1 in 1996. Between about September 2016 through March 2017, while the First Street property was vacant, the defendant forged the signatures of Person 1 and a notary on several documents – including a false sales contract and a false deed – in order to sell the First Street property to a company owned and controlled by him, without Person 1’s knowledge or consent. The defendant executed his scheme to defraud by preparing and presenting to a lender and Maryland settlement company the false and fraudulent documents. Neither the owner of the First Street property nor the notary signed the documents selling the property to the defendant’s company. The defendant provided the false documents to a Maryland settlement company and caused the settlement company to file the false documents with the D.C. Recorder of Deeds. In addition, the defendant caused the settlement company to give him the purported seller’s proceeds check from the purported sale, which he later deposited into another one of his LLC’s bank accounts. After allegedly purchasing the property, the defendant immediately resold the property to a third-party who intended to renovate it. After the third-party buyer spent at least $600,000 renovating the First Street property, they listed it for sale. The true owner of the property then learned that the property had been stolen out from under them.

            In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew M. Graves and Acting Special Agent in Charge David Geist, of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division, commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Lisa Abbe and Liliana Villamizar, Victim-Witness Service Coordinator Tonya Jones, Supervisory Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling, Litigation Technology Specialist Jeanie Latimore-Brown, former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Derrick Williams and Veronica Sanchez, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Lucas and Christopher Howland, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

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