Durham resident faces federal fraud indictment

jwise@newsobserver.comFebruary 12, 2013 

— A Durham man faces a federal indictment in Chicago for his alleged role in two mortgage-fraud schemes in Illinois that defrauded lenders of almost $10 million.

Warren Ballentine, who lives in Durham but has a law office in suburban Chicago, was scheduled for an arraignment Tuesday that was postponed until Feb. 20, said Randall Samborn, an assistant federal attorney in the Northern District of Illinois.

Ballentine responded to an email seeking comment with an Internet link to a news story posted at bit.ly/Up4a5h, in which his attorneys, Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. and Chicago attorney Lewis Myers Jr., say he is innocent.

He has declared his innocence on his Facebook ( on.fb.me/11EpO8l) and Twitter ( bit.ly/11EqmuV) accounts.

According to the federal indictment, Ballentine and others arranged to obtain mortgage loans and represented multiple clients at closings on homes in the Chicago area, while knowing that the clients were unqualified to receive the loans, in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

He is charged with two counts of bank fraud, two counts of making false statements to lenders, and one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud. The indictment seeks restitution of approximately $9,775,000 in fraud proceeds, and, if convicted, Ballentine could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million or more, according to a federal court statement.

According to Durham County records, Ballentine and his wife, Benita, bought a home in Durham in 2005; Ballentine bought a second residence in 2011. He registered to vote in Durham County in 2007 and is licensed to practice law in North Carolina as well as Illinois and the District of Columbia.

Ballentine, 41, is a Chicago native and graduate of N.C. A&T State University. He was one of the speakers during N.C. Central University’s 2011 commencement exercises, where he challenged graduate and professional students to “stay humble and remember to dream,” according to an NCCU release.

Styling himself “the people’s attorney,” Ballentine hosted the nationally syndicated radio program “The Warren Ballentine Show” until its syndicator, Radio One/Reach Media, cancelled it after the indictment was issued Jan. 28. Efforts to reach the company for comment were unsuccessful.

Raleigh radio station WAUG carried Ballentine’s program.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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