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2 Honolulu area women arrested in real estate debt elimination scheme

The FBI arrested two Honolulu area women today in connection with a real estate debt elimination scheme.

Jennifer McTigue, 46, and Sakara Blackwell, 38, were arrested at their homes in Aina Haina and Kahala, respectively, according to a statement released by the Honolulu FBI Office.

Both women were also arraigned today in U.S. District Court on charges of fraud, money laundering and other offenses tied to a debt elimination scheme to defraud lending institutions, condominium buyers, and escrow companies by filing fraudulent mortgage release documents with the Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances.

A third defendant in the case, Marc Melton, 43, was arrested by the Sacramento FBI and will appear in court there tomorrow before he faces charges in Hawaii.

McTigue and Blackwell (aka Dawn Sakaguchi) pled not guilty, according to a news release issued by Hawaii’s U.S. Attorney’s Office. A federal grand jury’s 45-count indictment against the women and Melton was returned Friday and unsealed today.

The indictment contends that the trio fraudulently obtained the releases of more than $4.5 million in mortgages or other financial liens against seven properties. It alleges that the defendants then sold the properties for prices totaling over $3.3 million.

According to the indictment, the defendants filed fraudulent "satisfaction of mortgage" forms with Hawaii’s Bureau of Conveyances, which caused lending institutions holding the mortgages not to be paid on the outstanding debts when the trio sold the properties, resulting in substantial profits. In addition to mortgage lenders, the scheme defrauded condo buyers who unwittingly bought properties with the hidden debts.

The defendants are charged with 27 counts of mail or wire fraud. McTigue, Blackwell and Melton are respectively charged with seven, five, and four counts of money laundering.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry M. Kurren set a trial date of March 11 before senior U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor.

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