Former Raleigh developer pleads guilty to fraud

From staff reportsMarch 18, 2013 

— A former Raleigh real estate developer whose mansion stood abandoned and covered with graffiti pleaded guilty Monday to federal bank and wire fraud charges.

James T. Webb, 52, was accused of defrauding scores of investors out of millions of dollars through a real estate scheme that spanned several states. Currently living in Miami, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Raleigh, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker.

Under the scheme, which played out between 2002 and 2006, Webb told investors he would use their money to buy, renovate and resell properties to first-time homebuyers in North Carolina and other states, prosecutors contend.

Investors took out loans on properties they were told had been renovated, and Webb conspired with a former attorney, a former appraiser and an associate to falsify appraisal reports to banks and lenders. The reports falsely claimed that appraisers had visited properties they had not seen and provided inaccurate condition reports for many of the properties.

During that time, prosecutors say, Webb used money from investors to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Webb left various neighborhoods in North Carolina and Virginia blighted with boarded up and dilapidated homes, many which were ultimately demolished, prosecutors said.

Webb also left behind a home he and his wife paid $1.5 million for in 2002 – an 11,000-square-foot brick mansion off N.C. 50 near the Wake-Durham county line. The home was left to vandals following a property dispute with Washington Mutual and JPMorgan Chase.

Sentencing is scheduled for July. Webb faces up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines, and could be ordered to pay back investors he defrauded.

The former attorney who prosecutors say worked with Webb, Amy Robinson of Rolesville, also has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. She faces up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine, according to prosecutors.

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