Ex-treasurer pleads guilty in mortgage scam
The former treasurer of Ocala's Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., once the nation's 12th-largest mortgage lender, has admitted to helping run a $1.9 billion fraud scheme that targeted the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program and contributed to the failure of Colonial Bank. Desiree Brown, 45, a resident of Citrus County, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiring to commit bank fraud. She also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors bringing Lee Farkas, 58, Taylor Bean's former chairman and chief executive officer, to trial on April 4. Farkas was charged in a 16-count indictment in June and faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. "Were there other people besides Mr. Farkas who were involved in this scheme?" U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema asked Brown at the plea hearing. "Yes ma'am," Brown answered, according to Bloomberg News. Brown faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and an order to pay restitution to more than 250 victims. She is to be sentenced on June 10.