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Metro Dream Homes founder sentenced to 150 years for Ponzi scheme

The founder of a mortgage scheme that fleeced more than 1,000 people of $78 million was sentenced Friday to 150 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced Andrew Hamilton Williams Jr., 61, of Hollywood, Fla. to the jail term for his participation in the Metro Dream Homes scam. A jury convicted Williams of fraud in November, following his trial in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

“This case exemplifies the egregious mortgage fraud schemes that flourished in the lending free-for-all that contributed to the bubble and collapse of the housing market,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a prepared statement. “Coordinated law enforcement is helping to hold the perpetrators accountable, but the real solution is meaningful oversight and auditing of lending decisions.”

Metro Dream Homes’ sales pitch was that, for a $50,000 investment and a $5,000 administrative fee, it would pay off the investor’s mortgage within five to seven years. The company said the revenue would come from ATM machine fees, television advertising and self-serve kiosks selling telephone calling cards.

Instead, in a Ponzi-style scheme, money from new investors went to pay existing investors. The money also was used for executives’ six-figure salaries, a fleet of luxury cars and travel to the Super Bowl. Regulators shut the company down in October 2007.

“These individuals were responsible for shattering the dreams of countless hard-working families during one of our country’s worst economic downturns,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely, in a prepared statement. “The teamwork exhibited by all participating agencies throughout the joint investigation was exemplary.”

On March 25, Bowie lawyer Michael Ron Worthy, 45, was sentenced to six months in prison on income tax evasion charges related to income he received from Metro Dream Homes.