Broker In Phony CU Real Estate Appraisals Scam Commits Suicide

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DECATUR, Ill. – A licensed real estate broker who was convicted of providing phony appraisals on 40 real estate loans, costing a Decatur credit union $1 million in potential losses, was found dead Thursday of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Terry Hart, 58, was convicted on charges of mortgage loan fraud in federal court in Urbana on Oct. 1. He was scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Hart, owner of Hart Realty in Decatur, was convicted of conspiring with Diane Shelton, 62, a former loan officer at the credit union, and Mark Brown a former licensed real estate appraiser. Shelton and Brown entered guilty pleas to nine counts of fraud and are scheduled for sentencing Nov. 12.

The trio used fraudulent appraisals prepared by Brown to cause buyers to purchase and Staley CU to finance residential real estate properties owned by Hart and financed at amounts substantially higher than their expected values between 2002 and 2005, according to prosecutors. Hart and Shelton also received payment of loan proceeds and kicked back payment to Brown through appraisal fees. The loans totaled $3 million, of which $600,000 went to Hart.

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