Feds: Auburn attorney pleads guilty in mortgage fraud scheme

An Auburn, Ala., real estate attorney pleaded guilty on Thursday to a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, federal prosecutors said.

James Boyd Douglas Jr. pleaded to one count of wire fraud, admitting he embezzled more than $2 million from his clients over a six-year period. He faces up to 20 years in prison at a later sentencing.

A plea agreement says Douglas would receive into his law firm's escrow accounts proceeds intended to repay mortgage loans on properties being sold or re-financed. Instead of repaying the loans, Douglas converted the money for his personal use, prosecutors said.

"In order to conceal the thefts, Douglas would falsely represent both to the mortgage lenders and to his clients that he had repaid the previous mortgage loans in full," the plea agreement says.

The case was investigated by the FBI. Douglas is to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller.