Evidence questioned in fraud case

In Court

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio )WKBN) – A Youngstown man accused in a $1 million dollar real estate fraud case says statements he made to FBI agents should be thrown out.

Ondrea Shabazz is arguing in federal court that statements he made to FBI agents during three separate interviews that took place April 19, 2013, June 19, 2013, and July 17, 2013, should be suppressed because he was not read his rights or mirandized.

In court papers filed this week, Shabazz says he was interviewed by FBI agents at their Youngstown office and at his wife’s restaurant.

Shabazz argued that the interviews conducted at the FBI Office in Youngstown were behind closed doors. He said he was “locked” in a room and could only leave if someone “buzzed” him out. Shabazz said he felt he was compelled to submit to the interview and didn’t think he had an option not to comply.

United State District Attorney David Toepfer argued in his response filed on Wednesday that Shabazz was not in custody during the interviews and free to leave at any time. He said agents offered Shabazz several opportunities to take breaks, but he refused.

Shabazz also signed a paper stating that the statements he made were true.

A judge will make a decision on the motion at some point prior to an April 14 trial date.

Shabazz was indicted in November on 59 counts of real estate, identity and mail fraud through his company Real Estate Investment Connection.

Authorities said Shabazz illegally took ownership of dozens of abandoned properties around the area by filing phony deeds with the Mahoning County Recorder and forging the names of the real owners. He would then sell the properties and retain the profit.

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