LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – A Ludlow couple pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to mail fraud, identity theft, and tax evasion.
According to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, 54-year-old Joanne Murray and 53-year-old James Murray engaged in a scheme to defraud the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation known as Freddie Mac from 2010 to 2015. Joanne worked at a Springfield real estate brokerage, which managed hundreds of foreclosed properties owned by Freddie Mac.
“In the scheme, Joanne, James, and others, agreed to submit fraudulent “reimbursements” by the brokerage to Freddie Mac for James’ company, amounting to approximately $1,372,099 in repair, improvement, and maintenance projects,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said. “After Freddie Mac paid the purported reimbursements, the brokerage paid James approximately 90% of those amounts and retained an approximate 10% skim. Joanne ensured that James’s company would win these projects by submitting fraudulent bids to Freddie Mac by purported competitors. To avoid detection by Freddie Mac, Joanne submitted bids in a friend’s name, without his knowledge, instead of James’ company, for work that was ultimately performed by James’ company. The Murrays also agreed to submit similar fraudulent requests for reimbursement of minor cleaning projects for James’ relative, amounting to approximately $68,960, in exchange for the brokerage’s retention of approximately 10% of the relative’s payments.”
In addition, Lelling said the Murrays evaded payment on outstanding federal tax debts based upon their 2008-2011 tax years by cashing numerous checks from the brokerage worth approximately $461,030 rather than depositing them into their back accounts. The Murrays also allegedly under-reported their gross receipts by $151,178 in 2014.