June 03--NORFOLK -- Dr. Irfan Jameel claimed that he earned nearly $54 million in 2006. Local banks believed him and gave him $4 million in loans for real estate and a Hummer.
Federal prosecutors say Jameel fabricated his income to obtain the loans. Jameel's trial opened Monday in U.S. District Court.
Jameel's lawyer told the jury that Jameel was the victim of the collapse of the real estate market and an invention that never took off.
"It's not a crime in this country to default on your mortgage," the attorney, James Theuer, told the jury. "And it's not a crime for your company to fail."
Theuer said Jameel is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was trained as a physician in his native Pakistan and in New York.
He was part owner of a company called Biocer and invented a type of wood that would resist fire and insect damage.
"It simply didn't pan out," Theuer said.
In mortgage applications, Jameel provided banks with tax returns showing that he earned $4 million from Biocer in 2005 and $4.5 million in 2006. He later revised his tax return to show that he earned just under $54 million in 2006; Theuer said that figure was really for Jameel's father.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Krask said all the forms were fabricated.
"The FBI looked high and low for that money," he said, adding that agents never could find it in any of his bank accounts.
Theuer said the compensation came in the form of stocks, not cash.
Jameel obtained $4 million in loans to buy four homes in Virginia Beach using that financial information. The last house he purchased was for $3.1 million -- a waterfront home with an underground garage and two hot tubs.
Jameel, 51, of Virginia Beach, is charged with wire fraud, financial institution fraud and using a false Social Security number.
His trial in U.S. District Court is expected to take at least two weeks.
Tim McGlone, 757-446-2343, firstname.lastname@example.org
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