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Title fraud investigation ends in arrest

A little more than a three-hour drive south of Orlando is the Gulf Coast village of Estero, Florida, known for its calm beaches, spectacular sunsets and shell mounds. The quiet of that pastoral setting was recently broken by the arrest of a local title agent.

The 56-year-old is accused by the Florida Department of Financial Services and State Attorney of embezzling more than $705,000 in escrow funds. She has been charged with first-degree grand theft and fraud.

In addition to misappropriation of escrow funds, she is accused of funneling money to a bank account controlled by her father, according to a report from Inman, a real estate news publication. Investigators claim that on eight separate occasions in 2010, the title agent diverted escrow funds into non-escrow accounts.

Her title agent's license has been revoked, according to Inman.

What can a 56-year-old do when charged with a crime punishable by up to 15 years in state prison? The first thing to do is to tell her story. She should sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney and go through the events in question and tell the lawyer what happened.

In some similar situations, a defendant might admit to a degree of complicity in the matter, but mitigating circumstances could result in reduced charges or a reduced sentence. In those cases, an attorney would negotiate with prosecutors for a favorable plea bargain. In other situations, there might be no violation of the law and the defendant would best be served by a vigorous defense at trial.

An attorney with knowledge of the complexities of the mortgage industry, banking and the law can help a defendant sort through legal options and pursue the best one.Please see our mortgage fraud page for more information about how the attorneys at The Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz can help you.