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Appeals panel upholds mortgage fraud convictions

RIDGELAND — A federal appeals panel has upheld the conviction of three people in a Mississippi mortgage fraud scheme that involved more than $10 million in fraudulent loans.

Former Ridgeland mortgage broker Mark Calhoun and father-and-son associates J. Larry Kennedy and Keith Kennedy, who operated a mortgage loan closing business, had appealed their 2010 convictions.

Calhoun was sentenced to more 16 years in prison for his role in the scheme.

Larry Kennedy got a five-year sentence and his son got six years. Both are from Mendenhall.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments from the trio that prosecutor erroneously used the same set of facts to convict them of the separate crimes of wire fraud and money laundering. The three argued that the facts of the case supported only convictions for wire fraud.

“The wire fraud crimes were complete before the conduct forming the basis of the money laundering convictions began, and the defendants used only profits from the underlying wire fraud to promote further wire fraud crimes,” Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote for the panel.

Prosecutors said that Calhoun prepared fictitious documents to ensure lenders would make loans to prospective borrowers, and that the three also sometimes benefited from inflated values set on homes.

Prosecutors said the Kennedys were the closing agents involved with the fraudulent mortgage loans. They said the Kennedys falsely notarized loan documents that said the borrower personally appeared at the loan closing and signed the closing documents in order to retrieve the money from the loan.

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