Thursday, July 14, 2011

Closing Attorney Cops Plea To $900K Escrow Funds Ripoff; Pocketed Loot Intended To Pay Off Sellers', Refinancing Homeowners' Existing Mortgage Loans

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Pella, Iowa):

  • [F]ormer attorney, Franklin R.York, of Pella, Iowa pled guilty in federal court in Des Moines to one count of wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt.

  • According to the written plea agreement, York owned and operated Escrow and Closing Services of Marion County, LLC since 2005 and provided real estate closing and refinancing services. Funds from real estate purchases and refinancing were wired to the escrow account belonging to Escrow and Closing Services and were intended to be used to pay mortgage balances of real estate sellers or persons refinancing.

  • Beginning in at least 2009, York took money from the escrow account for his own use. To hide this, York would delay paying a mortgage balance and would use funds from a later transaction to then pay for the mortgage.

  • As of February 1, 2010, there were ten mortgages that York received funds to pay but did not pay. These unpaid mortgages involved nine individuals and totaled $907,600.00.(1)

For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Pella Attorney Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud.

(1) The Iowa Judicial Branch's Client Security Commission manages a fund, generated from contributions from lawyers and judges, that reimburses clients of lawyers who have misappropriated or lost a client's money. The purpose of the fund is to prevent defalcations by members of the lowa bar and to provide for the indemnification by the profession for losses caused to the public by the dishonest conduct of members of the bar of this state.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:

Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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