Detroit man pleads no contest in real estate scam
Pontiac — A Detroit man has pleaded no contest in a mortgage racketeering scheme where he defrauded victims out of thousands of dollars in real estate scams between 2009 and 2013, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Friday.
The plea from Anthony Norman Carta, 57, owner-operator of the Southfield-based Freedom by Faith Ministries, was accepted this week by Oakland Circuit Judge Michael Warren, who scheduled sentencing for May 15.
According to investigators, Carta defrauded about 100 victims out of more than $300,000 by promising mortgage relief assistance, mortgage modifications and help in purchasing foreclosed homes. The Attorney General’s Office investigated following a series of complaints in 2013 and found victims had written checks to Carta for between $1,000 and $24,000.
But instead of using the money as promised, Carta cashed checks at party stores for his own use.
In one instance, Carta promised a bishop he would renegotiate a mortgage on a church and on the man’s home, according to court records.
“This man used deception and his position as a religious adviser to prey on Michigan families on the verge of losing their homes,” Nessel said in a statement. “To those who seek to use faith as a means to perpetrate crimes, know this: Our office will hold you accountable.”
Carta pleaded no contest to: conducting a criminal enterprise and accepting money under false pretenses, offenses that can carry up to 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Carta also pleaded to being a third-time habitual offender, which can potentially double the maximum sentence for each offense.
Carta, who was remanded to the Oakland County Jail pending sentencing, has agreed to pay more than $658,000 in restitution to victims.
"I am happy we were able to work out a plea to everyone’s satisfaction,” Carta's attorney, Lyle Harris, said Friday. “It’s a fair deal, I think. It eliminates the need for a trial and he still has an opportunity to move on with his life and not spend the rest of it in prison.”
Under sentencing guidelines, Carta should receive a minimum sentence of nine years and a maximum of 40 years in prison for the felony offenses, which would run concurrently and likely mean he will serve nine years in prison, Harris said.