athornebrooke@ricentral.com

EAST GREENWICH—Monique Brady, the East Greenwich property developer accused of conning investors out of roughly $10 million last year, was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison. The sentence brought the Brady saga to a close and maintained some consistency with Rhode Island’s recent legal history regarding the prosecution of fraud-related crimes.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman for the District of Rhode Island announced on Tuesday that Monique Brady, a property developer from East Greenwich, was found guilty of operating a $10.3 million dollar Ponzi scheme and obstructing an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigation.

According to a press release by the Department of Justice, court documents and statements made in court by Brady affirmed that she owned and operated MNB LLC, a property preservation and rehabilitation business. From 2014 through 2018, Brady used her business to solicit private investors to invest funds for large scale rehabilitation of properties with the promise that investors would receive half of the profits. Brady told investors the projects consisted of full‑scale rehabilitations of foreclosed properties in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, costing tens of thousands of dollars. In reality, the projects consisted of smaller preservation-type work costing far less. In many instances, Brady solicited investors and received funds for projects that did not exist. Of the 171 properties for which Brady ostensibly obtained investor funds for rehabilitation projects, 98 were for properties her company was never hired to preserve, and on which no work was ever performed.

To make her solicitations appear legitimate, Brady created fraudulent emails claiming she had won a bid to rehabilitate a property from an established national property preservation company. Although these emails included the name of an actual employee of the company, the company in fact had no such involvement with Brady and the employee’s name was used without permission. Brady collected more than $10 million in investor funds, some of which she used for personal expenditures. After Brady was informed that she was the subject of an IRS investigation, she attempted to obstruct the investigation by asking her investors to delete all emails, texts and documents relating to their investments in MNB rehabilitation projects.

On July 11, 2019, Brady pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstructing an IRS investigation. Last week the prosecutor for the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Vilkers, requested a sentence of 10 years in prison for Brady. In addition to the eight-year term of imprisonment, U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr. ordered Brady to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $4.78 million in restitution.

Brady was detained prior to the trial on the basis that she was allegedly attempting to flee the country to Vietnam. Prosecutors allege that Brady was having an affair with a bankruptcy attorney, who had bought two airline tickets to Vietnam with cash, and that Brady then attempted to obtain tickets for a flight with an earlier departure than the purchased tickets.

The case was one of numerous major fraud cases being played out across the state in the past year. Cases have included schemes to falsely claim public assistance monies for felons, forgery attempts to illegally claim state funds and Ponzi like false-investment schemes such as Brady’s.

A similar case last year was that of Hassan Hussein, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison in January. Hussein, who claimed to be a real estate investor, promised Rhode Islanders struggling with mortgage payments that he could renegotiate their payments for a fee. Hussein would then go to great lengths ensure his own profits, such as convincing a family to move into a new property while he rented out their home and kept the profits for himself. Like Brady, he was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft and, also like Brady, his sentencing resembled a timeframe more often associated with violence or drug-related charges than white collar schemes.

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