Woman in prison for mortgage fraud could be released - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Woman in prison for mortgage fraud could be released

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A woman who led Tarrant County's biggest mortgage fraud ring wants out of prison. Her attorney says she needs medical treatment she can't receive behind bars, but the Tarrant County district attorney is fighting her release.

The DA's office said 48-year-old Chekeelah Phelps and her associates bilked businesses and taxpayers out of $13 million. Last month she was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to engaging in organized crime and money laundering.

She's spent only 49 days locked up and already her attorney is asking that she be released to spend the rest of her sentence on probation because she may have cancer.

"Mrs. Phelps took responsibility for what she did. She has never committed a violent offense. She regrets all she put her family through," said Attorney Steve Gordon.

The DA's office is now outraged. It spent four years investigating Phelps' complicated mortgage fraud case that netted 16 convictions.

"This is the biggest mortgage fraud case in Tarrant County history. She profited nearly a million dollars, lived the high life with big houses and big cars," said Joe Shannon with the DA's office.

The probe started with an anonymous tip about a Mansfield neighborhood where 25 homes were foreclosed on at the same time. Investigator determined said Phelps oversaw at least 40 fraudulent loans.

"There was a hairdressing making $15,000 who purchased two half million dollar houses in a day," Shannon said.

He said Phelps' crimes contributed to the housing market collapse in 2008 and spending a month and a half in jail does little to deter others.

"I would like to make an example so other people don't do it," he said.

Sometimes cases like this require defendants to pay back what they stole. But in this situation the businesses Phelps defrauded went bankrupt or disappeared so there's no one to reimburse.


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