A federal judge in Detroit also ordered Ronnie Duke to repay $95 million in losses and a $1 million fine, The Detroit News reported. Duke cooperated with investigators after his arrest, getting a break on what could have been a 30-year sentence.
Investigators said from 2003 to 2007 Duke headed a group that secured more than 450 fraudulent mortgages in the Detroit area. He created fake title companies as part of the scam and hired ex-strippers as office help.
When he got involved in mortgage fraud, Duke already had six convictions for fraud, the first one when he was 19.
During his hearing, Duke told U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook his own "greed and stupidity" were to blame for his crimes. He tearfully described spending the proceeds of his fraud on cars and even on a helicopter.
In an interview with the News afterwards, Duke suggested he was enabled by lenders who did an inadequate job of vetting home loans.
"We got prosecuted. They got bonuses," he said.