A Bowie man was sentenced in federal court to three years in prison Tuesday and ordered to pay nearly $6 million in restitution after pleading guilty to fraud charges involving a mortgage scheme.
From 2006 to 2009, real estate agent Daniel Ofei, 39, falsified more than 50 potential home buyers’ financial information, making them eligible for bank loans they normally would not qualify for to purchase houses they eventually defaulted on, resulting in more than $5 million in losses to banks, according to a Department of Justice news release.
“We were hoping the sentence would be a bit lower, but it certainly was within the range of [sentencing] guidelines,” said Ofei’s attorney Brian K. McDaniel.
Ofei faced a maximum sentence of 30 years and restitution fines twice the amount of losses, in this case at least $12 million, said department spokeswoman Vicki LeDuc.
Although sentenced to 37 months at the Supermax prison in Baltimore, Ofei will likely only serve three months in jail, McDaniel said, since the federal prison system allows those who exhibit good behavior to serve only 15 percent of each sentenced year.
Ofei, with the help of four other Prince George’s residents, raked in more than $300,000 in commission from these fraudulent real estate deals and more than $1 million from payments for renovations that were never completed, McDaniel said.
Co-conspirators Michael Abobor of Bowie, Emeka Udeze of Bowie, Shola Risikat Balogun of Upper Marlboro and Jared Fanning of Potomac all have pleaded guilty to involvement in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing, the release stated.
“As realtors you’re expected to adhere to a strict code of ethics,” said Mike Graziano, director of government affairs at the Prince George’s County Association of Realtors.
All state real estate agents are required by law to follow the Maryland Code of Ethics, enforced by the Maryland Real Estate Commission, which licenses realtors. Realtors who violate this code could have their licenses suspended or revoked as well as face fines and jail time, according to the commission’s website.
Ofei’s realtor license has not been officially revoked, his attorney said, but Ofei has no interest in returning to real estate when he is released.
LeDuc said the department could not comment on how Ofei’s scheme was revealed.