Carole Tilghman, 50, Baltimore, Maryland, a title insurance agent who took tens of thousands of dollars from her clients’ escrow accounts to pay her personal bills pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County to one count each of felony theft and felony theft scheme.
The defendant was sentenced to five years’ incarceration, with all but six months home detention suspended. She was also placed on five years supervised probation and ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution. The conviction is the result of a joint investigation by the Insurance Fraud Division of the Maryland Insurance Administration and the Office of the Attorney General.
Tilghman, previously known as Carole Hicks, operated a Randallstown title company called Client 1st Title. From 2007 to 2010, she engaged in a series of settlement transactions involving home buyers and sellers. Tilghman would overcharge buyers and sellers recordation taxes and title abstract fees and she would keep the additional monies. In at least one transaction, Tilghman falsified a buyer’s financial statement, unbeknownst to the buyer, which led to checks being issued from the buyer’s account to pay Tilghman‘s car, mortgage and credit card payments, among other personal debt.
Misuse of escrow funds by title insurance agencies has been a growing focus of investigations by the Maryland Insurance Administration. In this case, the MIA revoked the licenses of both Tilghman and Client 1st Title in 2011. Each was fined $500, and they were ordered to repay consumers more than $51,700.
Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced the guilty plea and sentence.
Attorney General Frosh thanked Assistant Attorney General Jerry Jones, MIA Investigator Tom Zanfrandino and MIA Auditor JC Hamilton for their work on the case, as well as the Maryland State Police for their assistance in the investigation.
“Simply put, these consumers were ripped off by someone who they trusted,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Hopefully, this conviction serves as a deterrent to fraudsters who attempt to steal from hard-working Marylanders.”
“The Insurance Administration exists first and foremost to protect Maryland’s consumers,” said Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, Jr. “I’m grateful that the Attorney General’s Office prosecuted this case so aggressively. Working together, we can stop these bad actors who hurt consumers, as well as the reputations of all insurance producers, who overwhelmingly are an honest group.”