Title Agents Indicted for Stealing from Clients

admin —  January 18, 2010 — 1 Comment

Rebecca Marchese-DePeri-Grande, 37, Jackson Township, New Jersey and her sister, Meredith Miller, 34, Brick Township, New Jersey, have been charged with second degree Conspiracy, second degree Misapplication of Entrusted Property, second degree Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Property Received, and second degree Misconduct by a Corporate Official. The indictment also charges Miller with one count each of third and fourth degree Bad Checks, and one count of third degree Theft by Deception.

The indictment follows an investigation which was conducted by the Monmouth County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation was initiated in 2005 after numerous individuals complained to law enforcement authorities that after they had refinanced their homes, disbursements which were to have been made to the homeowners’ creditors by Marchese-DePeri-Grande’s and Miller’s title agencies were not made. The victims learned that the disbursements had not been made when they began receiving late notices from the creditors. In addition, some of the victims were served with foreclosure complaints as a result of Marchese-DePeri-Grande’s and Miller’s failure to have paid off earlier mortgages.

The investigation revealed that initially, Marchese-DePeri-Grande was the owner of R.M.J. Title Agency located in Freehold, New Jersey, and Miller was an employee there. In the Fall of 2004, Marchese-DePeri-Grande and Miller formed Spectrum Title Agency, also in Freehold, New Jersey, as co-owners. The investigation determined that after the victims obtained loans with the banks, the banks entered into agreements with R.M.J. and/or Spectrum regarding disbursement to the various escrow accounts for payments in accordance with the closing procedures set forth in the HUD-1 forms. Instead of making the required disbursements, Marchese-DePeri-Grande and Miller failed to remit the deposited funds to the proper entity or individual and instead unlawfully transferred the funds from their escrow accounts into their own business accounts. Marchese-DePeri-Grande and Miller then utilized the stolen funds for personal expenses. The personal expenses which the stolen funds were used to pay for included high-end vehicles such as Ferraris, lavish homes and travel for Marchese-DePeri-Grande and Miller. The total amount of the theft is approximately $786,152.62. In addition, Marchese-DePeri-Grande and Miller failed to file required documents with the County Clerk’s Office in connection with the refinanced mortgages.

Miller’s charges of Bad Checks and Theft by Deception relate to her issuance of checks on behalf of her clients which were returned for insufficient funds and her failure to pay the lease for Spectrum’s office space.

As Title Agents, Marchese-DePeri-Grande’s and Miller’s responsibilities included the preparation of closing statements, payment of mortgages and other liens, government charges, taxes and other expenses, disbursement of funds, and the preparation, execution and recordation of all necessary legal documents. From November 2002 through March 2005, Marchese-DePeri-Grande and Miller failed to perform these duties with respect to fifteen of their clients.

Following the return of the indictment, Marchese-DePeri-Grande and Miller were arrested on December 28, 2009, by Detectives from the Monmouth County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office. The Jackson Township, Brick Township and South Brunswick police departments also assisted in the arrests. Following the arrests, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Ira E. Kreizman set bail for Marchese-DePeri-Grande and Miller at $150,000 each

The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance opened a parallel investigation in 2005 which remains open. R.M.J. Title Agency and Spectrum Title Agency ceased doing business shortly after the customer complaints were made in 2005. According to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, the license for R.M.J. Title Agency became inactive on January 31, 2007, and Spectrum Title Agency’s license became inactive on April 30, 2008. Marchese-DePeri-Grande’s and Miller’s individual licenses became inactive on October 3, 2005, and April 30, 2008, respectively.

If convicted of any of the second degree crimes, the maximum potential custodial sentence is a State Prison term of up to 10 years. If convicted of any of the third degree crimes, the maximum potential custodial sentence is a State Prison term of up to five years. The maximum potential custodial sentence for a fourth degree crime is a term of up to 18 months.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

The case is assigned to Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Barbara Suppa. Marchese-DePeri-Grande is represented by Kevin Moriarty, Esquire, of Red Bank, N.J. Miller is represented by Judy Saunders, Esquire, of New York City, N.Y.

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One response to Title Agents Indicted for Stealing from Clients

  1. This is an old scheme, but effective in creating mayhem.

    The key is, get the escrow company to write and give you the checks to mail.

    As to the mortgage payoff, I would have asked for a copy of the wire transfer or check. Granted, it could have been stopped by the escrow individual, but at least you would have more proof.

    Perhaps there should be a different way of handling escrows … lenders are hit harder in the RESPA arena, but escrow companies can create more fraud. This goes for states that use attorneys for closings as well.

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