Early Briefing: Turning Up The Heat

Stuart and Nancy Thompson thought they were getting a deal on a big home priced at $370,000. But it was never built, and they are paying $700 a month for a $100,000 loan. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)

They promised to deliver brick-front colonials in a sparkling new subdivision in Upper Marlboro, homes on as much as an acre of land for as little as $370,000.

Instead, the home builders and the mortgage broker pocketed payments from 11 buyers and left them empty-handed, Glenn F. Ivey, state's attorney for Prince George's County, said Thursday, in a Metro story by staff writer Ovetta Wiggins.

The builders and broker are accused of collecting about $1 million for homes that were never built in what was to be the Kings Grant subdivision.

"We felt these defendants were trying to steal the American Dream," Ivey said as he announced criminal charges against the three. "And we want to get the message out that we will prosecute."

Home builders Leon T. Coleman and his wife, Emma Coleman, District Heights residents who ran Opportunity Investment Group, are charged with 57 counts of theft and other violations. Mortgage broker Kathy Lynn Ridley of Ellicott City, who operated Worldwide Financial Services, is charged with 13 counts of theft and conspiracy.

Reached by phone later, Leon Coleman said that he was unaware of the charges and that his company had done nothing wrong. The subdivision was supposed to be his first home-building project, he said.

"I didn't receive any money for the homes," he said.

Efforts to reach Ridley for comment and identify her attorney were unsuccessful.

Efforts to reach Ridley for comment and identify her attorney were unsuccessful.

If convicted, the Colemans could face up to 35 years in prison. Ridley, to whom the Colemans are accused of referring their customers, could face up to 15 years.

Ivey said he knew of no other instances of home builders in Maryland being criminally prosecuted on allegations that they collected money, then failed to deliver homes.

In other news:

*Freddie Mac said it is ordering the people who service its loans to suspend all foreclosure sales on properties in the federally declared disaster areas caused by Hurricane Ike in Texas and Louisiana. The suspension extends to Dec. 31 and includes mortgages that were in default prior to Hurricane Ike.

Servicers will be required after the suspension ends to consider individual circumstances in determining whether additional foreclosure relief should be extended or whether to proceed with foreclosure. The announcement only applies to properties with Freddie Mac-owned mortgages in Texas or Louisiana counties, municipalities or parishes that were declared federal disaster areas and where federal aid in the form of individual assistance is available.

* CSC of Falls Church said it has received a multiyear contract worth as much as $50 million to continue supporting NASA's Hubble Space Telescope program under a new agreement with the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which operates the Space Telescope Science Institute for NASA in Baltimore.

*Science Applications International said it received a contract potentially worth more than $254 million from the Defense Intelligence Agency to work with the DIA's National Media Exploitation Center.

The contract has a six-month base period and four one-year options. SAIC, which has its headquarters in San Diego and a significant presence in the Washington area, said it will provide translation and transcription services, media and document exploitation, and related support services, primarily overseas.

By Dan Beyers  |  October 10, 2008; 8:36 AM ET
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