Clients lost $ 460,000 to Louisiana woman, federal government says
Ritchel Morehead convinced her clients she had billions of dollars in the bank to secure their loans, Federal Court documents show.
In fact, prosecutors said, the 40-year-old Louisiana had just under $ 6,000.
Morehead is accused of convincing at least six victims in California, Oregon and Georgia that she could provide them with multi-million dollar loans in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in upfront fees. Prosecutors said the loans never materialized and that Morehead instead spent the money on a new car and jewelry before trying to hide it in overseas bank accounts.
She pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in the eastern district of Louisiana on Wednesday, Jan.5, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a press release.
Morehead, a native of Covington, Louisiana, faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000 – double the amount of losses suffered by his victims. Defense attorneys representing her did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on January 6.
According to a grand jury indictment, Morehead owned a Texas company called Chel Corporation. She was introduced to a person in New Jersey – identified in court records as “Individual 2” – who sought sources of funding for large loans, which Morehead claimed she could fund through Chel Corporation, the officials said. prosecutors.
From December 2018 to February 2019, she reportedly signed contracts with six clients requesting loans of up to $ 100 million.
Morehead told clients she needed the cash up front, which she called “binding fees and charges,” prosecutors said. These fees ranged from $ 20,000 to $ 300,000.
In an attempt to convince victims that she had the capital to secure their loans, Morehead is accused of sending fake bank statements showing she had $ 1.2 billion to $ 3 billion with a balance average accountant of $ 17 billion. But prosecutors said the Chel Corporation account actually had $ 5,800 with an average ledger balance of $ 902.
Morehead never made a loan to victims, the government said. Instead, she spent the so-called binding fees on a $ 55,000 Lexus and at two jewelry stores in Los Angeles, according to court documents.
She is also accused of having transferred at least $ 254,700 to a bank account in the Philippines.
A grand jury indicted Morehead with seven counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering and one count of misrepresentation in January 2021, court documents show.
As part of his plea deal, Morehead agreed to pay $ 460,000 in restitution. Prosecutors said the government had already seized about $ 190,000 from him.
She is due to be sentenced on April 6.