A Billings woman suspected of defrauding a bank to get a home loan and of bilking investors in a separate scheme is expected again to admit to fraud charges after a federal judge rejected an earlier plea deal.
Angela Corson Smith, 32, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have reached a second plea agreement in which Smith is to plead guilty to bank fraud and to wire fraud in exchange for the prosecutor seeking the dismissal of six other counts in an indictment, court records said.
Smith also would be held responsible for paying about $150,800 restitution to all victims, including those in counts to be dismissed, the agreement said.
Senior U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon set a hearing Monday in Billings for Smith’s expected plea change.
Haddon rejected the first plea agreement in October, when Smith was to be sentenced for pleading guilty in July to one count of bank fraud. The agreement said restitution was mandatory but did not identify a figure. The prosecutor earlier had indicated the figure was close to $120,000.
The judge allowed Smith to withdraw her plea and set the case for trial in January.
Assistant Federal Defender Steve Babcock, who represents Smith, said he thought Haddon rejected the first deal because some restitution issues had not been addressed.
The second plea agreement identifies by initials six victims owed amounts ranging from $2,000 to $45,000. A seventh victim, Altana Federal Credit Union, is owed $22,300, the agreement said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr said in court records that Smith defrauded the credit union in October 2009 by forging her husband’s name on loan documents to get a $27,300 home equity loan.
In the wire fraud count, Fehr said that from September 2010 to January 2013, Smith deceived various persons of thousands of dollars to get them to invest in a new business called Medical Billing Advocates of Montana.
Smith told investors the company was to resolve billing issues between physicians, patients and insurance companies, Fehr said. Smith sought investments to get started and promised investors a quick return on their money, and in some cases, profit sharing. She also provided investors promotional material and business cards.
“MBAM never had a single client,” Fehr said. Smith also used her residence as the business’ official mailing address, she said.
Smith deposited various investor checks into personal accounts and into an account she opened in the name of MBAM at US Bank, Fehr said. Smith spent the money in the account for personal expenses, all of which were unrelated to the business.
Smith also used payments from some investors to begin making payments to earlier investors and gave investors checks that bounced, Fehr said.
When investors asked for their promised payments, Smith told them she was “gravely ill, that her daughter was gravely ill and that she was experiencing marital difficulties,” Fehr said.
The bank fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, while the maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
Smith also was suspected of impersonating a nurse at Billings Clinic. Police investigated but no state charges have been filed.
Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said he has not decided whether to charge Smith and is waiting for the federal case to conclude.