VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. –
One of the largest mortgage fraud cases the state has ever gone after is falling apart. Edward Traylor and his son Perry were facing 35 felony charges after prosecutors said they used a Volusia County church as a front to commit an elaborate form of mortgage fraud, but now a judge has thrown out nearly all the charges.
The defense said the case was a waste of time and taxpayer money, but it isn’t over yet.
Tuesday, a judge agreed to speed the case up and set a trial for May. The defendants had been accused of fraud in nearly 20 different home loans, but now a jury will only consider three of them.
A lot has changed since WFTV first tracked down 57-year-old Edward Darrell Traylor. Fourteen months ago, he denied even being the man who was facing 35 felony charges, including grand theft and racketeering.
But prosecutors have struggled to prove that Traylor and his son Perry committed a crime when they used their Individual Freedom Ministries Church to capitalize on the once-booming housing market. When people wanted to buy homes they couldn’t afford, the state says, the church would offer down payments in exchange for a higher kickback from the sellers.
Prosecutors said the Traylors ripped off lenders and artificially inflated the housing market in the process.
“Wasn’t there at least something a little shady about the way this buyer assistance was going on?” WFTV reporter Eric Rasmussen asked the defense attorney.
“If you have anything specific that you can talk about, I’d love to hear it,” Defense Attorney Brad Sherman said.
Traylor’s attorney recently convinced the court to throw out all but three lesser charges. He said there were no real victims and those close to the case said the prosecution may have already spent more than $100,000 trying to prove otherwise.
“Do you think this case has been a waste of taxpayer money?” Rasmussen asked.
“Yes, it’s been a huge waste of taxpayer money,” Sherman said.
WFTV talked to the state prosecutor on the case. He said we’re all victims, because we’re now paying for irresponsible lending.
The Traylors will be back in court in May to face three counts of defrauding a financial institution.