Man Arrested for Misappropriating Escrow Funds

Allison Tussey —  November 28, 2011 — Leave a comment

Steve Zaven Kessedjian, 48, Los Angeles, California, was arrested after a federal grand jury returned an indictment on July 21, 2011, charging him with mail fraud for a mortgage fraud scheme. Kessedjian was arrested by U.S. Secret Service agents in Los Angeles and appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court there.

According to the indictment, Kessedjian‘s company, Amerilend Inc., Woodland Hills, California, helped homeowners secure loans to refinance their homes. When a loan was funded, Amerilend would use Targa Escrow, another business owned by Kessedjian, to disperse the escrow funds.

According to the indictment, in December 2007, an Amerilend employee assisted a couple from Tuolumne County, California, in refinancing their home to consolidate their credit card bills. As directed by closing documents, the bank paid off the first mortgage and then wired the remainder of the loan proceeds, $57,343, to Targa Escrow. Instead of dispersing the remainder to the credit card companies as the escrow instructions directed, Kessedjian took the funds for his own purposes. The victims lost their home to foreclosure and their home-based business, as they could not make payments for the refinanced loan and pay the creditors who were supposed to have been paid off with the funds taken by Kessedjian.

If convicted of the charges, Kessedjian faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Secret Service and the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Michele Thielhorn is prosecuting the case.

The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the arrest.

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Allison Tussey

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