Tampa, Fla. — U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the unsealing of an indictment charging James John Melis (53, Largo) with four counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, Melis faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud, 30 years for each count of bank fraud, and a consecutive mandatory sentence of 2 years in prison. for aggravated impersonation counts. The indictment also informs Melis that the United States seeks a forfeiture order in the amount of $1.1 million, the proceeds of the indicted criminal conduct.
According to the indictment, Melis abused his position as business manager at a private school in Tampa by tying his personal bank account to the school’s PayPal account without permission. When the parents paid the tuition to the school account, Melis initiated fraudulent electronic fund transfers to his personal account. He then spent the stolen funds on travel and luxury items, such as jewelry.
Separately, the indictment charges Melis with executing a mortgage granting fraud scheme against a financial institution for two properties he owned. To trick the mortgage lender into thinking he was a qualified borrower, Melis used another person’s personally identifying information on loan applications, and prepared and submitted false and fraudulent IRS tax returns. , fictitious mortgage satisfactions falsely representing that his properties had equity, and rental agreements falsely showing that he received substantial rental income. As part of this scheme, Melis used other people’s identifications and forged their signatures on fictitious mortgage satisfactions and forged rental agreements submitted to the mortgage lender. Based on Melis’ misrepresentations, the financial institution approved and funded both mortgages.
An indictment is simply a formal accusation that an accused has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and each accused is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.