Diane H. Frederick Atari
Diane H. Frederick Atari made her first appearance in court Tuesday. She faces charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering that could land her a 280-year sentence if convicted on all counts.
A spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office says, at her arraignment, Atari said she was an honest businesswoman and was being unfairly targeted. The spokesman says Atari asked the judge why other people had not been pursued in connection to this incident, and he responded that was another issue for another time.
Howard Mulholland, an investigator with the Virginia Attorney General's Office, says Atari used businesses she owned in Loudoun County to put low-income residents into houses they couldn't afford.
"A lot of the folks who had their credit repaired and invested in the homes ended up bankrupt, ruined credit, lost their homes," Mulholland says.
Mulholland says Atari made commission and helped with the short sales after they lost their homes.
Atari fled to Turkey in 2009 but was taken into custody there. She spent more than a year in a Turkish prison before being extradited.
Commonwealth's Attorney for Loudoun County Jim Plowman says prosecuting this case means a lot to his community.
"It also sends a message to the people that would otherwise victimize those that we’re not going to just stand aside," Plowman says.
Atari is being held at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center.