North Carolina developer sentenced to prison in Ponzi scheme

November 16, 2021 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina real estate developer has pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme that defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million. federal prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina says in a news release that Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Monday for wire fraud and possession of firearm by a felon. He was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution of $1.7 million to his victims.

According to court documents, Houchins solicited funds by telling victims that their money would be applied to a specific property and secured by deeds of trust. Instead, prosecutors said, Houchins regularly used investor funds on other properties or on personal expenses.

An indictment also alleges that after Houchins diverted investor money away from the property, he didn’t develop and sell the properties. In some instances, the indictment said, he didn’t own the property.

The court also saw photos of Houchins dressed in a tactical vest and mask with gun magazines strapped to his chest that he sent to his wife. When he was arrested, Houchins had a Ruger AR-15 despite being a convicted felon.