A popular south suburban Chicago lawyer and national radio host was indicted Monday on federal charges of mortgage of fraud.
Warren Ballentine, who bills himself as the “people’s attorney,” and whose radio show airs locally on 106.3-FM radio starting at 9 a.m. weekdays, is accused of engaging in two mortgage fraud schemes that bilked lenders out of approximately $9.7 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
The indictment alleges that Ballentine, of south suburban Country Club Hills – by way of Durham, N.C., “schemed with others to obtain more than two dozen fraudulent mortgage loans and represented buyers at multiple closings, knowing that they were fraudulently qualified for loans to purchase homes in Chicago and various southern suburbs,” according to the federal government.
The Defender reached out to Ballentine for comment but had no reply by press time.
Ballentine posted on his Facebook page Monday evening: Now I’m being told take time off the radio smh. I need to be on air to tell my side.
There were plenty of replies of support and encouragement on the social media site following his post.
Ballentine, 41, owns the Law Office of Warren Ballentine, LLC, in the south suburban town. He was charged with two counts of bank fraud, two counts of making false statements to lenders, and one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud in a six-count indictment returned Jan. 24 by a federal grand jury. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of approximately $9,775,000 in alleged fraud proceeds.
Ballentine is scheduled to be arraigned at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 5 before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in Federal Court in Chicago.
Ballentine’s radio show airs nationally and is can also be heard locally in WVON-AM/1690. The station’s owner, Mellody Spann-Cooper, issued a statement Monday attempting to clarify that Ballentine was not a WVON personality but rather his show aired on the station as part of syndication.
“Ballentine’s program airs only as a re-broadcast overnights
from 4 a.m.- 6 a.m. on WVON. This rebroadcast is part of Syndication One, one of America’s leading syndication companies,” according to a written statement issued Monday by WVON.
Spann-Cooper said, “This is an unfortunate situation and
we hope things work out for Mr. Ballentine. No decision has been made on whether we will continue to carry his radio show as it is not a primary focus of the station.”
According to the indictment, between December 2004 and February 2005, Ballentine schemed with others to fraudulently cause various lenders to make at least eight loans totaling approximately $3.6 million by making false statements in loan documents, including applications, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development settlement statements, and occupancy statements concerning the buyers’ intention to occupy the homes they purchased as a primary residence.
Ballentine then represented buyers recruited by others at real estate closings, knowing that they had signed and submitted false documents and had been fraudulently qualified to purchase the properties in Chicago, Monee, Woodridge, and Mokena.
Between February 2005 and May 2006, Ballentine allegedly engaged in a similar, separate scheme with others to fraudulently cause various lenders to make at least 20 loans totaling approximately $6.1 million by making false statements in mortgage documents, including the buyers’ intention to occupy the homes as a primary residence. Ballentine also represented these buyers at closings, knowing that they had been fraudulently qualified for the loans based on false documents, including some that Ballentine advised them to sign at closings.
These homes were scattered throughout Chicago and other south suburbs, including Country Club Hills, Richton Park and Markham.
Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.