Ohio man found guilty of wire fraud in church scheme
By Brian Stanley email@example.com August 16, 2013 10:04PM
Updated: September 19, 2013 10:08AM
CHICAGO — An Ohio man has been found guilty of using money churches and small businesses were sending to pay advance fees on mortgage loans for his own expenses.
Jamal E. Lawson, 43, of Dayton, was found guilty Wednesday on three counts of wire fraud after a two-week jury trial before U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel.
“He promised a total of $600 million in loans and didn’t fund a single one,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher McFadden said. “(Lawson) repeatedly lied to churches and business owners, not only in the Chicago area, but all over the United States, about his ability to fund loans as well as the purposes for which the advance fees would be used.”
One of the victims, a Sauk Village minister, sent Lawson $3,950 to guarantee a $742,000 loan that would cover the purchase of the former church at 114 Channahon Street in Shorewood, McFadden said.
Additional churches and businesses victimized by the scheme were located in Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia, a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Lawson offered to provide loans to pastors of 20 churches and owners of about a dozen small businesses through one of his companies: Evangel Capital Group, Evangel Capital Partners, Ascendant Capital Partners, Ascendant Commercial Mortgage, Destiny Capital Group and Destiny Capital Partners Ltd.
Instead, Lawson used the advance fees he was wired to pay for clothing, cars, food and travel, according to court records. He received over $275,000 between June 2009 and December 2010.
After receiving loan applications, Lawson’s businesses would advise borrowers the loans were approved in amounts ranging from $300,000 to $206 million.
“The defendant knew full well that he could not fund these loans, yet he took the money and falsely made firm commitments to lend the money anyway. The jury verdict was supported by overwhelming evidence,” McFadden said.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory.