No bail for former Tampa broker in string of frauds

Matthew Cox pleads not guilty to a 42-count indictment. He is accused of stealing millions.

Published December 12, 2006

Matthew B. Cox, a former Tampa mortgage broker accused of masterminding millions of dollars in loan fraud in five Southern states, was ordered held without bail Monday in a federal courtroom in Atlanta.

Cox, 36, appeared haggard in a white T-shirt and tan pants as he pleaded not guilty to a 42-count indictment during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court.

He spoke softly as he was advised of his rights and the charges against him, the Associated Press reported. His attorney, Mildred Dunn, did not fight the government's request to detain him pending trial, and Judge Linda Walker ordered Cox held.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gale McKenzie disclosed that Cox, in addition to the charges in Georgia, also will face federal charges in Nashville and Tampa, but that those cases could be consolidated in Atlanta. McKenzie said Cox made statements to authorities about his activities. She also said he agreed to let the government seize his assets.

Cox, an executive in the Urban Equity real estate firm in Ybor City, is suspected of using invented identities such as Brandon Green and James Redd to sign for at least $2.7-million in mortgage loans on run-down properties in Tampa Heights.

Cox and an accomplice, Rebecca Hauck, fled Tampa three years ago. According to an indictment, they went on a multistate crime spree, obtaining fraudulent loans using identities that were stolen, invented or taken from homeless people.

Cox abandoned Hauck in Houston, then settled in Nashville, where he adopted the persona of Joseph M. Carter, a co-owner of a property restoration business. In Nashville, records show, Cox used the name of Carter and the fictitious Walter Holcomb to acquire 23 properties and sign for $1.47-million in loans.

The Secret Service arrested Cox, one of its most wanted fugitives, on Nov. 16 in Nashville.

Federal agents were tipped off by a Nashville retiree and occasional babysitter who matched Joseph Carter's face with a photo of Cox on the Secret Service's Web site.

Hauck, 34, and Cox were indicted on charges of bank fraud, wire fraud, interstate transportation of fraud proceeds, identity theft, money laundering and conspiracy. Hauck was arrested in March while living under a stolen identity in Houston.

Hauck pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month to five years and 10 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. She was ordered to pay restitution of $1.2-million, and ordered to forfeit to the government any profits from any book, television or entertainment rights.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.