February 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Fugitive mortgage kingpin arrested, allegedly assaults federal prosecutor

Detroit— A fugitive mortgage kingpin who fled in June after being sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in one of the country’s largest fraud scams was arrested Monday and allegedly assaulted a federal prosecutor.

Ronnie Duke, 46, of Fenton, was apprehended inSaline early Monday, more than eight months after failing to surrender to federal prison officials.

U.S. District Court spokesman Rod Hansen confirmed the arrest and Duke’s assault on a veteran femaleprosecutor while the fugitive made an initial appearance in federal court at about 2:30 p.m.

The assault allegedly happened after Duke was arraigned. He had consented to detention and as the paperwork was being handed to U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurie Michelson’s staff, Duke allegedly lunged at the prosecutor, Hansen said.

“He just suddenly bolted and assaulted her. It was only a matter of seconds before the marshals subdued him,” Hansen said. “It was clearly more than a shove.”

Medical personnel were called but the prosecutor opted to take herself to an area hospital, he said.

The prosecutor appeared to be OK, he added.

The FBI and Marshals Service are investigating the alleged assault, said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Gina Balaya.

She declined comment on the prosecutor’s condition.

A U.S. Marshals Service spokesman also declined comment. Deputies apprehended Duke without incident in Saline, about nine miles southwest of Ann Arbor, before 10:30 a.m. Monday, Balaya said.

Duke’s former lawyer, Harold Gurewitz, did not represent Duke in court Monday.

“I got a call from somebody with the government who told me he was arrested,” Gurewitz told The News.

He had not heard from his former client since Duke fled last summer.

“It’s kind of inexplicable to me, the whole thing,” Gurewitz said. “I literally know nothing about where they found him or what he was doing there.”

Duke was convicted for his role in a scheme that used fake documents to secure hundreds of loans on homes throughout Metro Detroit from 2003-07, triggering nearly $95 million in losses as it bankrolled a lavish lifestyle for Duke and his co-conspirators.

They used the proceeds from the loans to pay for luxury vacations, boats, cars and a nightclub. Duke used some of his money to buy hot-rod cars.

Duke, who had been convicted of numerous crimes since his teenage years, created fake title companies, hired former strippers to process loans and worked with hand-picked appraisers and others to run a ring that secured more than 450 loans across Metro Detroit.

Federal agents accused Duke and his co-defendants of arranging loans — targeting homes valued between $350,000 and $600,000 — and then taking a portion of the money for themselves.

rsnell@detroitnews.com
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