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James E. Coleman, 59, and James R. Rhoades, 48, both of Kansas City, pleaded guilty in separate appearances before Judge Howard Sachs to charges contained in a Jan. 4 federal indictment. Coleman is a certified public accountant who formerly served as president of the board of a Kansas City magnet school. Former Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields and her husband, Phillip Cardarella, were among those indicted for their alleged roles in the scheme.

Coleman and Rhoades admitted that from early September through Nov. 17, 2006, they had participated in a conspiracy to defraud Fieldstone Mortgage Corp., according to a release from John Wood, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. Coleman also pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud.

On May 14, co-defendant Jeremy A. Plagman, 29, of Lee's Summit, pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy. Plagman, an appraiser doing business as JET Appraisals in Lee's Summit, provided an inflated appraisal of $1.2 million for property at 5034 Sunset Drive in Kansas City.

Coleman's role in the conspiracy was to prepare and provide a number of fraudulent letters for co-conspirators attesting to their creditworthiness, Wood said in the release. These letters and the inflated appraisal were submitted to Fieldstone Mortgage as part of the loan application to buy the property. Rhoades' role in the conspiracy was to assist a co-defendant in obtaining documents needed for the transaction, to prepare and submit false documents as needed and to contact co-conspirators as needed, Wood said.

Co-conspirators hoped to obtain loan proceeds in excess of the property's actual sale price by falsely representing to the mortgage lender that the stated sale price was greater than the actual sale price, Wood said.

Coleman also admitted that on three separate occasions in October and November 2006, he had committed wire fraud by transmitting faxes of fraudulent documents in furtherance of the conspiracy. He also admitted to wire fraud by acknowledging his responsibility for a fax transmission to Fieldstone Mortgage of signed closing documents related to the sale and purchase of the property, Wood said.

Each co-defendant could be subject to a sentence of as long as five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of as much as $250,000 and an order of restitution on the conspiracy charge. Coleman also could be subject to a sentence of as long as 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of as much as $250,000 on each wire fraud charge.

Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the U.S. Probation Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Parker Marshall and Senior Litigation Counsel Gene Porter are prosecuting the case, which the FBI investigated.


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