Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Steal USDA-Mortgaged Houses

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

Jackson, Miss. – A Georgia man was convicted today before Senior U.S. District Judge David C. Bramlette for conspiring to steal houses from the United States Department of Agriculture, announced U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Dax Roberson of United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General.

According to court documents, Barry Martin, 47, originally from Tylertown, conspired with others to identify and steal USDA-mortgaged properties.  The targeted properties were mortgaged through the Brookhaven office of USDA Rural Development, an agency which helps rural residents buy or rent safe, affordable housing, especially low and very-low income individuals.  Co-conspirators had access to a list of abandoned, foreclosed, nearly-foreclosed, or similarly distressed USDA-mortgaged properties and would create fraudulent warranty deeds designed to convey ownership of those properties to co-conspirators and others.  The fraudulent deeds included forged signatures from former homeowners, including at least one deceased individual.  The fraudulent deeds were then filed in Chancery Courts around Mississippi with the intent to deprive the actual owners of the use and benefit of the properties and to deprive the United States Government of the actual value of the properties.

Martin pleaded guilty to a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which criminalizes conspiracies against the laws of the United States.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 9, 2023 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The USDA OIG and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew W. Eichner is prosecuting the case.