Sandy P. Kim, 43, Ellicott City, Maryland, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with her role as a title agent. Kim addmitted the she stole closing funds for her personal use.
According to her plea, from 2005 to 2008, Kim was employed as a title agent at a title insurance company, and was the owner and chief operating officer of EK Settlements. Kim was required to maintain an escrow account in order to receive real estate settlement funds from buyers and pay off mortgage lenders. Starting in 2006, Kim stole money from the escrow accounts to pay her personal bills, including taxes and private school tuition for her children. She also used the stolen funds to pay prior loans she had failed to pay off, in order to forestall discovery of her theft.
On August 20, 2007, Kim performed a closing for a client and caused $175,136 to be wired to an account she controlled. Instead of paying off the client’s prior mortgage, Kim used the money for her own purposes. To conceal the theft, she made several monthly mortgage payments to the prior mortgage lender.
In 2008 when her employer began to suspect problems and sought to audit her accounts, Kim submitted fraudulently altered bank records. When subsequently interviewed by law enforcement, she admitted to the scheme.
Kim stole a total of $684,283 from the escrow accounts which were intended to pay off mortgage lenders. As part of her plea agreement, Kim has agreed to entry of an order of forfeiture in such amount.
Kim faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,00 fine. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander scheduled her sentencing for November 2 , 2012, at 3:00 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.
The announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the FBI for its investigative work and commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara S. Sale, who is prosecuting the case.