PHOENIX — A former Coolidge real estate agent has been found guilty of 32 counts of wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a land fraud scheme.

According to U.S. District Court records, a jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Sarah Kelley, 38, guilty of 24 counts of wire fraud and eight counts of money laundering. Sentencing has been set for Feb. 3.

Kelley’s trial started on Oct. 12 and ended with closing statements and a jury verdict on Friday.

Kelley was a real estate agent and owner of Canyon Construction of Coolidge. According to court records, Kelley’s real estate investments were in trouble and she was facing foreclosure on certain properties.

She talked a woman into investing $185,000 of an inheritance into a joint real estate project in Coolidge in 2017. The money was supposed to be used to buy a vacant lot, but Kelley never purchased the lot. Instead, she used the money to pay past-due loans on several pieces of property she owned and was at risk of being foreclosed on.

Kelley returned to the woman and told her that Kelley’s sister was about to have her home foreclosed on. Kelley asked if she could borrow $130,000 to help her sister. The woman wired Kelley the money. Court records state that Kelley used the money to completely pay off her property loans.

Kelley never paid the woman back, even after she sold her own properties, and never purchased a property or applied for building permits for the woman.

A couple of Internal Revenue Service employees and representatives from some banking institutions testified in the trial.

Prosecutors also used several Facebook messages between Kelley and the woman from January 2017 to December 2018 talking about the joint investment project, the loan for Kelley’s sister and Kelley repaying the funds as evidence in the trial. Wire transfers of money to and from Kelley’s bank accounts as well as checks and statements associated with those accounts were also admitted as evidence in the case.


Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa is a reporter covering the city of Casa Grande and the surrounding area, as well as Central Arizona College. She can be reached at

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