Federal prosecutors have announced that former Charlotte attorney, Michelle V. Mallard, pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and embezzlement in the middle of her trial this week. Mallard’s guilty plea is the latest conviction in a mortgage fraud investigation known by the name of Operation Wax House. Of the 91 defendants that are part of the ongoing investigation, 72 have already pleaded guilty.
According to evidence, Mallard agreed to use her law license to further mortgage fraud primarily in South Carolina and Waxhaw, NC. Testimony alleges that co-conspirators purchased houses at inflated prices in exchange for kickbacks representing the difference between the true price and the inflated price. Mallard agreed to pay these kickbacks to other members of the conspiracy and accepted counterfeit checks to make it appear that the buyers provided the money. Prosecutors alleged that Mallard participated in the mortgage fraud scheme after having stolen over $30,000 from clients by embezzling from her trust account.
After evidence was presented earlier in the week, Mallard told Chief United States District Judge Frank Whitney on Wednesday that she wanted to change her plea to guilty on all counts. She was released on bond and a sentencing date has not been set at this time.
Michelle Mallard, 46, faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison if she is found guilty.