HOUSTON – Three people have been ordered to federal prison
following their convictions of money laundering for their participation in a
Houston-based bank fraud and money laundering scheme, announced Acting U.S.
Attorney Abe Martinez.
Houston resident Jason Ryan Hall, 36, pleaded guilty Aug.
15, 2016, while disbarred former attorney Howard Price Johnson, 63, from Salt
Lake City, Utah, and Ohio resident Anissa Lavon Burdett, 50, pleaded guilty
Sept. 29, and 23, 2016, respectively.
Today, U.S. District Judge Alfred Bennett ordered Hall to
serve an 18-month sentence to be immediately followed by two years of
supervised release. Johnson was previously sentenced to a term of 12 months and
a day, while Burdett was ordered to serve six months in prison. At the hearing
today, additional evidence was presented about Hall’s role in orchestrating the
scheme. He was further ordered to pay restitution to the victim banks of $484,070.76
and forfeit $21,000 to the United States.
The three individuals participated in an automobile loan
fraud scheme centered in Houston spanning April through November 2011. Hall
held himself out as a used car dealer who sold luxury vehicles through his
alleged Houston car dealerships “EZ Auto Group” and “1st Choice Motors.” Hall’s
alleged dealerships, however, existed only as websites that Hall created. They
had no physical existence, owned no cars and made no actual auto sales.
Acting as “straw buyers,” Johnson, Burdett and others
applied to lenders for auto loans in order to purchase used Mercedes and Lexis
cars from Hall’s supposed dealerships. In reality, no vehicles were purchased
and Hall had none to sell. In their auto loan applications, the straw buyers
made multiple misrepresentations to prospective lenders and submitted
fraudulent documents Hall created and supplied in support of the loan
applications. These fraudulent documents included fake bills of sale of
the cars that were the subject of the loans and fake W-2 forms that purported
to show gainful employment by the straw buyers that would qualify them for the
Once the auto loans funded and the funds had been deposited
into the bank accounts of the alleged dealerships, Hall kicked-back a portion
of the loan funds to the straw buyers. Hall delivered no vehicles to the straw
buyers and delivered no vehicle titles to the lenders. The straw buyers failed
to pay off their loans, causing the loans to go into default. During the
scheme, straw buyers applied for a total of 16 fraudulent auto loans with a
combined value of approximately $695,741.
Hall was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily
surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near
IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Secret Service
investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Johnson prosecuted the case.