Title Company Owner Admits Diverting Escrow Funds

Allison Tussey —  July 29, 2011 — Leave a comment

Michael A. Gmeinwieser, 38, Crofton, Maryland, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a scheme to divert over $3 million in settlement funds intended to pay off the previous mortgage on the properties to himself and his company.

According to Gmeinwieser‘s plea, he was the sole owner of Innovative Title LLC, Odenton, Maryland, and was responsible for preparing settlement statements, issuing title insurance, disbursing mortgage proceeds and other funds, and ensuring that relevant paperwork was properly completed for real estate closings. Gmeinwieser arranged real estate purchase or refinancing transactions that entailed temporarily depositing funds from a mortgage lender into Innovative‘s escrow account to pay off the lien secured against the property by a prior lender.

Instead of transferring the funds held in escrow to the prior lender as promised, Gmeinwieser diverted the funds to other uses for himself and Innovative. Gmeinwieser‘s misappropriation of funds occurred during real estate transactions involving third party borrowers as well as transactions in which he refinanced mortgages secured by properties he owned. After carrying out refinancing transactions involving third party borrowers, Gmeinwieser made monthly mortgage payments on the borrower’s behalf in an effort to decrease the likelihood that the borrower would discover that their original loan had not been paid in full as agreed.

The losses to the lending institutions that distributed mortgage loans on the basis of Gmeinwieser‘s false promises amounted to approximately $3,041,497.

Gmeinwieser faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander scheduled his sentencing for October 25 , 2011, at 2:00 p.m.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force was established to unify the agencies that regulate and investigate mortgage fraud and promote the early detection, identification, prevention, and prosecution of mortgage fraud schemes. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to protect consumers from fraud and promote the integrity of the credit markets. Information about mortgage fraud prosecutions is available www.justice.gov/usao/md/Mortgage-Fraud/index.html.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin J. Clarke, who is prosecuting the case.

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Allison Tussey

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