Family to stand trial in real estate scheme

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Three family members allegedly involved in a real estate scheme from 2004 to 2007 that caused four houses in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and Detroit to go into foreclosure were ordered to stand trial following a preliminary examination Aug. 26 in 19th District Court before Judge Mark Somers.

Samer Zahr, 37, and his wife, Chirine Ghandour, 29, both of Dearborn; and Zahr’s mother, Rajaa Zahr, 53, of Dearborn Heights, are facing charges including obtaining property by false pretenses and conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise. The trial was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit.

Somers said evidence against the three was enough to determine probable cause. He said the case poses a challenge to everyone involved.

“There are some real factual issues in this case,” Somers said. “It’s complicated, and there are real defenses to real charges.”

After buying the houses, including properties in the 8000 block of Riverview in Dearborn Heights and the 15000 block of Tireman in Dearborn, Samer Zahr allegedly sold them to his mother at an inflated price. Rajaa Zahr then allegedly obtained mortgages by providing false information to lending companies and spent the money. The properties went into foreclosure after she defaulted on the loans.

Samir Zahr and his wife are also accused of using loans totaling $200,000 taken out against Flexible Transport and Zahr Real Estate Investment, to pay for business and personal expenses.

Robert Forrest, Detroit-based attorney for Samer Zahr, called the charges “erroneous” and “excessive.”

The charges followed an investigation by the Wayne County Deed Fraud Task Force, comprising Wayne County Register of Deeds Bernard Youngblood, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)

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