He styled himself “The People’s Attorney” and once claimed that 3 million listeners tuned in to hear his brand of black empowerment on his nationally-syndicated radio show.
But former Soul 106.3 personality Warren Ballentine is now a convicted fraudster.
A federal jury took less than an hour Friday morning to find Ballentine, 43, guilty on six counts connected to a $10 million mortgage scam.
Ballentine hung his head, frowned and mouthed the word “Man” as the verdicts were announced by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly.
Evidence during the trial showed that Ballentine used straw buyers to obtain mortgages on properties they never intended to live in. In some cases, he attended closings for the same phony purchasers at two different properties within three days of each other, each time telling the straw buyers to lie on their mortgage forms.
Ballentine uses the handle @truthfighter1 on twitter, but during closing arguments at the end of a week-long trial Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Boutros told jurors “Warren Ballentine is not on trial because he’s a truth fighter — he’s on trial because he fought against the truth.”
Loan applications Ballentine submitted were “shot through with lies,” Boutros said.
The fraudulent applications helped him and his co-conspirators buy homes in Chicago and suburbs including Monee, Woodridge, Mokena, Country Club Hills, Richton Park, and Markham between 2004 and 2006.
Ballentine’s lawyer Lewis Myers unsuccessfully argued that Ballentine merely acted as an attorney at closings, and that Ballentine was not involved in any “hanky panky.”
Co-defendants who plead guilty and testified against Ballentine in return for reduced sentences got “millions” while Ballentine himself only “went home to his wife with $350″ after each closing, Myers said.
Speaking after the verdict, he said Ballentine would appeal.
Ballentine, whose show was also carried on WVON radio before his indictment, lives and broadcasted from Durham, N.C., but grew up on the South Side and previously lived in south suburban Country Club Hills, where he maintained a law office. His radio show was picked up by urban radio stations nationwide.
He now faces up to 30 years behind bars on each of 6 counts and a $6 million fine, plus restitution.
Source: Chicago SunTimes