RALEIGH – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging a real estate developer with Fraud and Money Laundering. The charges were unsealed Tuesday.
According to the indictment, Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, of Sanford operated a number of real estate development companies in Raleigh between 2014 and 2018, including Rossshire Development LLC, Greenstone Ventures LLC, and Modern South Development LLC. The indictment charges that Houchins used these entities to carry out a fraud upon his real estate development investors.
According to the indictment, Houchins solicited investment monies by telling victims that their money would be “put to work” on a specific property, and further represented that the investments would be secured by deeds of trust filed with the county register of deeds that was the subject of the investment. In fact, Houchins did not put all of the investor funds to work on the property on which the investor was solicited to invest, and instead, regularly used investor funds on other properties, or on personal expenses. Likewise, the investor promissory notes were not secured by a deed of trust as promised. In some instances, Houchins did not even own the property that was the subject of the investment, and as such, could not truthfully grant a deed of trust to the investor.
The indictment alleges that after Houchins diverted investor money away from the property on which the funds were supposed to be spent, Houchins failed to develop and sell the properties, as he represented he would. Houchins then defaulted on the notes by failing to pay investors their promised returns. The investors were unable to foreclose upon the investment properties because Houchins had not secured the promissory notes with a deed of trust filed, thereby resulting in losses to the investors.
Houchins is charged with nine counts of wire fraud, each of which carry a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Houchins is also charged with three counts of conducting monetary transactions in criminally derived property, each of which carry a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.
Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement today. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Secretary of State are investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case.