My name is Lorene Chittenden and I’ve spent the last three and a half years in prison for a mortgage banking crime that I did not commit.
I worked in the mortgage banking industry from 1990 until 2014. In 2013 the Government indicted me for overstating “Stated Income” mortgage loans. These “Stated Income” loans were created by the Government in 2006 and were the major cause for the housing market crash in 2008.
The day I was indicted the Government illegally froze all my assets, even my life’s savings that were not at all related to the alleged crime. They even tried to seize the retainer fee I had given my attorney. The Government did not want me to defend myself.
After being indicted I continued to work 50 hours per week at the bank where I was employed. The bank audited all my previous and current loans as a precaution and found no fraud. My boss knew I was honest, hardworking and wanted me to continue working there.
My attorney fees tripled from the initial estimate, so my family liquidated their retirement and saving accounts to pay his fees. My attorney acknowledged the Government freezing my assets was illegal but no one could stop them. The Supreme Court recently ruled on freezing “untainted assets” like mine and said it was a violation of Constitutional rights.
The Government was required to provide us the documents they had indicted me on. They provided over 2.5 million pages of documents. Many were duplicates or not related to me. The amount of documents were overwhelming and was intended to confuse us and prevent us from building a good defense.
Because my attorney had no experience in the specialized world of mortgage banking he was unable to educate the jury about this important detail: Namely that my job was to gather the loan papers and give them to a processor. The processor gave the loan papers to the underwriter for approval. I did not approve any loans. At the end of the trial both the jury and judge incorrectly thought my job was to approve loans. My job was to prequalify the borrower not to approve their loans.
The jury found me guilty of 11 loans out of 25 and the Government asked the courts to give me 30 years in prison and restitution of $1 million. But at sentencing the Government asked the courts to include additional loans - not one of which was proven to contain fraud, and some were not even associated with me. The addition loans increased my restitution from $1 million to $16 million. I never had a chance to disagree.
I believed when an innocent person went to trial the jury would find them innocent. Now I know the jury must be educated and well informed so they can make a correct decision.
This appeal is not about the time I spent in prison, the abuse I encountered there or the time I spent away from my family and love ones. It’s about proving my innocence.
My life has changed drastically and irreparably since the indictment and trial. I know now I must hire an attorney who is competent and knowledgeable with mortgage loans. I am currently interviewing several attorneys. This time she or he will be the most qualified in mortgage loans.
Please support my cause. Help me raise $50,000 to hire a competent attorney to prove my innocence.
- A.C. Stickel
- John (jack) Edwards
- Richard Hearn
- August Stickel
Organizer and beneficiary
Bowling Green, KY