Church Members Defrauded of Over $1.3 Million
Teresa Hodge, age 43, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland was convicted after a three-week trial on six counts of mail fraud, seven counts of interstate transportation of money obtained by fraud and one count of money laundering in connection with a company she co-founded known as the Financial Warfare Club (FWC), announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Hodge was also ordered to forfeit $1,358,209—the proceeds of the scheme to defraud.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, "Marcus Dukes and Teresa Hodge defrauded many victims by making false promises to convince them to invest their money. Investors should exercise caution before giving their money to people who promise unrealistic returns."
According to evidence presented at trial, Hodge and co-defendant Marcus D. Dukes, age 35, of Oak Park, Michigan executed a scheme to defraud potential investors in FWC by making numerous misrepresentations and omissions of material facts at presentations they made to numerous African-American Pentecostal churches promoting membership in FWC. Evidence showed that Hodge falsely represented to potential members of FWC that she was a very successful business woman and that she and co-defendant Marcus Dukes invested more than a million dollars of their own money into FWC. FWC members were promised financial literacy courses and grants of stock in three infrastructure companies prior to the initial public offerings. Individuals who joined FWC, however, never received any of these promised benefits. Finally, the evidence showed that FWC obtained in excess of 800 members and raised in excess of $1.3 million.
Hodge faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for money laundering, 5 years for each count of mail fraud and interstate transportation of money obtained by fraud, a $250,000 fine, and 5 years of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus has scheduled the sentencing for September 25, 2006.
Dukes was convicted after trial on June 8, 2005 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison on November 22, 2005.