Preliminary Hearing Set for Vegas Man in 'Equity Skimming' Case

A judge set a preliminary hearing Jan. 18 for a Nevada businessman facing felony charges that he bilked mortgage holders who sold homes to him to try to avoid foreclosure.

Matthew Marlon, 64, of Las Vegas, was not asked to enter a plea
during his Friday arraignment before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace
Tony Abbatangelo, a court clerk said.

His defense lawyer said later that Marlon planned to post $100,000 bail on Friday, and would plead not guilty and fight the charges.

"There's a real question here as to whether this was unlawful conduct," said lawyer Dominic Gentile, of the firm Gordon & Silver. Gentile said Marlon was a legitimate home-buyer.

Marlon was arrested Monday while he met with two potential home
sellers who were cooperating with investigators, authorities said.
He was charged with 32 felony counts, including fraud, theft and
filing false documents.

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller said investigators believe Marlon, using an alias, was conducting a scam known as equity skimming, where struggling homeowners sell their properties to a buyer who promises to make their mortgage payments.

Miller said that once Marlon had possession of homes, he rented them out but did not make the mortgage payments.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-01-04-08 1536EST

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