A man convicted of mortgage fraud addressed the judge and others in the courtroom before being sentenced. Instead of expressing remorse, he self-righteously claimed that the world really needed a good Christian person like him.
The sanctimony was not a success. Judge Steven Lange sentenced Marlon Pratt, 34, to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for 17 theft-by-swindle and two racketeering convictions. Pratt was a mortgage loan officer who blatantly inflated the true value of property on loan applications and pocketed the difference between the sale price and the loan as a kickback. There were numerous properties involved in the scheme, and Pratt may have obtained as much as $700,000 for his role.
The judge called it greed with a capital G, justifying a sentence above the eight-year guideline. Pratt may also face additional charges involving straw buyers.
The far-reaching fraud, conducted between 2004 and 2007, led to $3.2 million in foreclosures on 17 properties. It affected Minneapolis and two suburbs, but hit north Minneapolis especially hard. Five others besides Pratt have been convicted or pled guilty in connection with it.
What was Pratt thinking, given these facts, when he stood up and told the judge to go easy on a good Christian? He should have taken a look first at Mark 10: 17-18, in which a man comes up to Jesus and address him as Good Teacher. Before answering the man’s questions about what must be done to inherit eternal life, Jesus corrects him emphatically: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”