HAMMOND | A federal judge sentenced a Gary man to nine years in prison Wednesday for his involvement in a real estate fraud scheme.
Randall B. Causey was the first of eight defendants sentenced in the scheme in which lenders were given false information and buyers were recruited for homes sold at inflated prices.
A federal jury found Causey guilty of one count of conspiracy and six counts of wire fraud last year. The seven other defendants have entered plea agreements, admitting to either conspiracy or fraud charges.
Before he was sentenced, Causey's attorney told U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano money was not a motivating factor for his client, who he said probably earned between $30,000 and $50,000 in the scheme.
“You don't expect an unselfish person to be convicted of a monetary crime,” Causey's attorney, R. Brian Woodward, said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster said Causey was not a generous man.
“The victims the defendants preyed upon were unsuspecting, uneducated and not knowledgeable about real estate,” Koster said.
Woodward argued during the nearly six-hour sentencing hearing that his client was a minor player in the ruse, and his sole role was recruiting buyers to purchase properties. Woodward said Causey did not know of the fraudulent financial documents reportedly filed by co-defendant Sheila Chandler, of Schererville, and that Chandler carried out the scheme in a “clandestine fashion.”
However, Koster said Chandler also falsified cashier checks, an action in which Causey had direct involvement.
Before the sentencing, attorneys disputed how many of the 25 homes involved in the scheme to hold Causey accountable. The government wanted Causey held responsible for all 25. After a brief recess, Lozano said he would hold Causey accountable for 18 of the homes.
Causey told Lozano that co-defendant and childhood friend Gordon Rainey, of Merrillville, gave testimony at an earlier sentencing hearing as an “incentive” for a lower sentence. Causey said Rainey was the only defendant he knew, and he had trusted him.
“I'm as decent as any person who has ever walked the face of this earth,” Causey said.
Causey was taken into custody immediately after the sentencing hearing.