Chuck Norris, the dude famous for kicking butt and taking names, turns out can be a victim as well. It seems that not even “Walker, Texas Ranger” can escape from becoming a victim of fraud. Tiger Woods, however, managed to avoid it.
There is a case of an investment scam that got Chuck Norris involved, among others, that amounted to $67 million dollars. Of course, the case takes place in Texas, Houston more specifically. The case has been ongoing since the three alleged conspirators, Ted Russell Schwartz Murray, David Isaac Lapin and Jeffrey Carl Wigginton, had been indicted back in August 2006. However, this past August, the latter two decided to team up on Murray in a plea bargaining deal.
Murray was the owner of Premiere Holdings real estate investments, while his co-conspirators ran a subsidiary of Premiere called Lapin and Wigginton Asset Management. According to court documents, Murray and his co-defendants made false representations to investors when he promised 12% interest, 1st liens on real estate, 72-hour liquidity and 70% loan to value ratio.
In actuality, the interest was paid from a portion of the investor’s principle and returned to them as interest. Also, many loans were not secured by first liens on real estate and/or not based on a 70% LTV. Adding to the fraud, loans on certain projects were actually in default at the time the funds of new investors were placed in these loans, a fact that was not disclosed to the investors. Finally, as it that wasn’t enough, Premiere Holdings charged fees ranging from 15-25% from investor funds, another fact not disclosed to investors.
Most of the investments were securities backed by subprime mortgages and commercial loans, representing millions upon millions in losses which Murray and the others concealed as they continued to bring new investors into the scam. Murray and his two co-defendants stole a total of $67 million from several wealthy investors including film and television actor Chuck Norris and retired baseball player Vince Coleman.
Murray is expected to get what was coming to him as he was found guilty of 22 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and even false tax filings. His sentence is currently scheduled for March 2009.
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