- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The founder of a local nonprofit is facing criminal charges that he and another man schemed to steal 15 properties from the estates of dead people in a scam that netted $770,000, according to federal charges unsealed yesterday.

Duane McKinney, 35, president of the Brotherhood of Men Inc., faces up to nine years in prison if convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, theft and other felony charges. Joe D. Liles, 55, a notary, was also charged in the indictment and faces nearly three years in prison.

The Washington Times first reported last year that the IRS and FBI began investigating Mr. McKinney after a traffic stop in Arlington in 2005 in which police officers found $150,000 in cash in the trunk of his BMW.

The indictment charges that Mr. McKinney of Largo used the Brotherhood of Men, which was purportedly created to help disadvantaged youth, as a cover in the real-estate fraud scheme.

Authorities said the scheme involved getting titles to properties by forging deeds documents so that officials with the D.C. Office of Recorder of Deeds would think that the owners had sold the land to the Brotherhood of Men.

Often, however, the owners had died and their signatures were forged, authorities said.

Once he got the properties, Mr. McKinney then would sell for a big profit, according to the charges.

Prosecutors also said Mr. McKinney used the Brotherhood of Men to conceal from the Social Security Administration that he was getting disability payments.

In addition to filing criminal charges, authorities also are seeking the forfeiture from Mr. McKinney and Mr. Liles of several properties in Prince George’s and the District, $770,872, two BMWs and a Mercedes-Benz.

Separately, Mr. McKinney has been sued in the civil division of the D.C. Superior Court over questionable real-estate deals. According to one lawsuit, two residents said Mr. McKinney told them that their property was lost through a tax sale and “there was no hope of recovery.”

After paying $200 to Mr. McKinney to be released of any responsibility for the property, the residents said they later found that Mr. McKinney had sold the vacant property for $174,500, according to the lawsuit.

The probe began last summer, when Arlington County Police officers pulled alongside Mr. McKinney’s car because it was stopped on the side of the road near Route 50, court records show.

After finding out that Mr. McKinney had an outstanding 1999 warrant for simple assault, officers arrested him and searched his car, according to a police spokesman.

They found more than $150,000 in cash in the trunk. He told the officers that the money belonged to the Brotherhood of Men, a job-training group that repairs and sells old properties, according to documents filed by investigators.

According to a seizure affidavit filed by an IRS investigator, authorities said Mr. McKinney, through the Brotherhood of Men, sold property that neither he nor the nonprofit group “properly owned.”

Mr. McKinney challenged the seizure of his BMW and cash before charges were filed, saying in civil court records “there is no legal basis” for the action.

In an interview after the seizure, he also denied any wrongdoing and said the Brotherhood of Men provided job training for youths.

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