Harwood, Sutherland plead guilty to charges

GREENEVILLE -- Harry S. Mattice Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, announced that Shirley Harwood, 47, owner of Apple Tree Mortgage, Kingsport, pleaded guilty Monday before United States District Judge Thomas G. Hull to four counts of a 12-count indictment returned in October 2001.
   Specifically, Harwood pled guilty to conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with a fraudulent scheme to broker a short-term loan.
   Harwood and her former employee and co-conspirator Dennis Ray Sutherland Jr., 30, of Piney Flats, who previously pleaded to the conspiracy charge, fraudulently induced Credit Suisse of Zurich, Switzerland, to fund a $4.5 million loan to HelveStar, a Swiss company. The defendants created forged documents purportedly from Bank of America, which they provided to Credit Suisse as collateral for the loan.
   In communicating with representatives of Credit Suisse, Harwood and Sutherland allegedly vouched for the authenticity of the phony documents by pretending to be Bank of America authorizing officials. The loan is currently in default for more than $4 million. Harwood received more than $200,000 in commissions for brokering the loan and rewarded Sutherland with $10,000 for his role in posing as a Bank America official.
   The case is being prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division Fraud Section, Trial Attorneys Eric J. Beste and Sejal H. Patel.