While the Eastern District of Texas is not known for the kind of violent crime and public corruption cases that make assistant U.S. Attorneys famous, it is known for something else: suburbs.
So, it’s fitting that on August 15, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder bestowed the prestigious Director’s Award on two current and one former AUSA in the district’s Plano Division for the way they handled the most suburban of crimes -- mortgage fraud.
Holder, along with Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys Director H. Marshall Jarrett, picked AUSA Shamoil Shipchandler, AUSA Christopher A. Eason, and former AUSA Richard J. Johnson to receive the award. The cases they prosecuted involved over 114 properties from suburbs such as Allen and McKinney in which 40 defendants were accused of conspiring to defraud lending institutions by convincing them to approve mortgage loans for homes with fraudulently inflated values. Of those defendants, 37 plead guilty, two were convicted at trial, and restitution orders totaling more than $100 million were entered in their cases.
“You and your team are responsible for the successful prosecution of the largest mortgage fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas to date, and one of the largest in Texas history,” Holder wrote in individual letters to the attorneys.
Shipchandler, who was the lead prosecutor in the cases, says he was in the right place at the right time to handle a “cool case.”
“Great cases don’t come along every day. And by luck and circumstance, I was there when we had an FBI agent present such an interesting scheme," he says.
Shipchandler notes that Eastern District was hit particularly hard by the scheme.
“We were sort of at ground zero of the mortgage fraud crisis,’’ he says.
Unfortunately, Shipchandler and his fellow award recipients weren’t able to receive the award in Washington D.C. from the AG himself as is tradition, he says. Because of Congress’ sequestration budget cuts, the ceremony was held at home and Eastern District U.S. Attorney Malcolm Bales presided instead of Holder.
“There is something nice about getting it amongst the people you work with every day,” Shipchandler says. “There’s something special about that.’’
--- John Council