A judge sentenced married Greenville business owners to a combined 17 years in federal prison and ordered them to pay over $2.5 million on Oct. 5 after a jury found the couple guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and equity skimming for a scheme that defrauded home buyers and sellers.
Dana Roush, 40, received a sentence of 136 months in prison, and Michael “Bubba” Roush, 56, received 78 months. Both prison terms will be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. The defendants were also ordered by U.S. District Judge Timothy Cain to pay $2,664,796.69 in restitution.
“These defendants here stole more than money. They robbed their victims of the American dream,” said U.S. Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. in a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “For so many South Carolinians, times are tough right now. That these two defendants exploited that difficulty to line their own pockets is reprehensible, and this office will not tolerate it.”
Dana and Michael Roush owned Kingdom Connected Investments LLC, referred to as KCI. They presented the company as a Christian business that helped both home sellers and buyers. The couple actively sought out homeowners that owed more on their home than the home was valued for, while also looking for buyers with less than stellar credit, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
KCI would allegedly tell the homeowner the company would buy the home and place a new buyer in it that would rent-to-own the property. The Roushes, as KCI, allegedly told the sellers they would pay the mortgage payments.
The company, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, misled these sellers into thinking they’d be taken off of the home’s title, relieving them of the responsibility of the original loan.
The new buyers believed they were renting to own, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says — the Roushes asked for a down payment of about 10% of the purchase price. KCI allegedly did not disclose that the original owners still had a mortgage on the home that KCI was supposedly in agreement to pay.
Instead of the money from the down payments and rents going to paying the mortgage payments of the home sellers, the U.S. Attorney’s office states that the couple “used the money for personal expenses and to expand their real estate business.”
Eventually, the sellers who thought they no longer had responsibility for their original loans were met with foreclosure notices, learning that KCI stopped paying the mortgage payments, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The buyers also discovered they had no actual ownership in the properties they were renting when the property was purchased at foreclosure sales with the new owners starting eviction proceedings.
The couple allegedly paid $1.4 million in mortgage payments after receiving $2.6 million from buyers. Approimately 130 properties were involved in the scam — in only two instances did a buyer become the owner of the property and a seller not be foreclosed on and their credit impacted.
“The fraud perpetrated by the defendants [Dana and Michael Roush] allowed them to steal millions of dollars from people who could not afford to lose any money,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jody Norris. “The victims were robbed of their life savings, their homes, and the futures they had planned.”