WRAL Investigates

Man gets 32 years in prison for HOA-foreclosure home-buying scheme

Posted July 9, 2018

— A Wake Forest man was sentenced Monday to 32 years in federal prison for fraudulently scooping up homes in foreclosure.

Xavier Milton Earquhart, who has been the subject of a WRAL News investigation for four years, was found guilty in March of more than a dozen counts related to bank fraud, identity theft and money laundering.

Earquhart was arrested in Wake Forest in June 2014 when residents on Coral Bell Drive saw him drilling out the locks of a nearby house and called police. Police eventually dropped all charges against him when he showed that he had purchased the title of the $300,000-plus home, which the Heritage Wake Forest Homeowners Association had foreclosed on for nonpayment of dues, for $3,800.

The arrest kick-started a federal investigation into Earquhart's real estate transactions.

Authorities said Earquhart illegally obtained eight properties in Wake Forest, Cary, Holly Springs, Durham and Charlotte through HOA foreclosures, using aliases to bid on properties and funneling money through holding companies. He would produce fraudulent documents showing the mortgages had been paid off and that he had clean titles to the properties and would liquidate the holding companies as soon as the properties had been resold, authorities said.

"This was a crime that hurt not just banks, but also individuals and families who feared they would lose their homes through no fault of their own. The defendant will have plenty of time to think about the harm he has caused," U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon said in a statement.

Earquhart, 31, was removed from the courtroom Monday during his sentencing hearing after arguing federal authorities have no jurisdiction over him. U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt called the claims a "bunch of garbage."

Britt also ordered Earquhart pay nearly $1.6 million in restitution.

Federal authorities already seized more than $1 million in fraudulent cash and property from Earquhart, including gold coins, recording studio equipment and vehicles, to help repay defrauded banks and home buyers.