ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) — A couple who ran a rent-to-own scheme that marketed itself as a Christian organization promising to create a “win-win” scenario for home buyers and sellers were sentenced to prison Tuesday in South Carolina.
Federal Judge Timothy Cain also ordered Michael “Bubba” Roush and Dana Roush to pay $2.6 million in restitution to the nearly 200 victims of Kingdom Connected Investments, the company that operated the scheme, The Greenville News reported.
Michael Roush pleaded guilty to a mail fraud conspiracy charge in June 2019, nearly three months before his wife was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and equity skimming by a federal grand jury.
Federal prosecutors said last September that the couple's company had promised mortgage relief to homeowners by purchasing their home and finding a rent-to-own buyer for the property. The company also agreed to pay the seller's mortgage.
Instead of using the payments from buyers to pay down the mortgages, prosecutors said the couple used the money for personal expenses and to expand their real estate business. A news release from the U.S. Attorney's office said the company received $2.6 million from buyers and only paid $1.4 million in mortgage payments.
The sellers often received foreclosure notices, and the buyers learned they didn't have ownership when the home was purchased by a third party at a foreclosure sale. Nearly 130 properties were involved in the scam, which also targeted homeowners in North Carolina and Georgia, according to the newspaper.
Dana Roush has been in the Anderson City Jail for a year after violating a condition of her bond, the newspaper reported. She was sentenced to approximately 11 years in prison for her role in the company and another embezzlement case. Michael “Bubba” Roush was sentenced in Anderson to nearly seven years in prison.
Michael Roush's attorney asked the judge to consider a lighter prison sentence to allow him to work and repay victims, the newspaper reported. It was not immediately clear if Dana Roush had a lawyer who could comment.