Kirby Sean McKee, 50, Davis, Illinois, has been charged with embezzling more than $500,000 in funds that had been placed in escrow accounts and insurance premiums. McKee is charged in the indictment with embezzling money, funds and premiums of A Title Escrow Company, Inc. and Stewart Title Guaranty Company.
According to the indictment, A Title Escrow Company was a title and escrow company located in Freeport, Illinois and was a registered agent of Stewart Title Guaranty Company a Texas-based title insurance company. The indictment states that A Title Escrow Company had, in the Freeport, Illinios area, sold title insurance policies issued by Stewart Title Company.
As charged in the indictment, A Title Escrow Company also acted as an escrow agent for real estate transactions. A Title Escrow Company was required to maintain escrow funds in a separate account and to disburse them only in accordance with written instructions relating to the real estate transactions. Due to the volume of A Title Escrow Company’s business, there was a substantial float in A Title Escrow Company escrow accounts, meaning that on any particular day, the total amount of title insurance customer funds that had been deposited into A Title Escrow Company’s escrow accounts substantially exceeded the total amount of funds paid out that day in escrow transactions.
The indictment alleges that McKee embezzled more than $500,000 that had been provided by title insurance customers to A Title Escrow Company and placed in escrow accounts. Specifically, the indictment charges McKee with having transferred funds from escrow accounts to A Title Escrow Company’s operating accounts on seven separate occasions between October 13, 2004 and March 15, 2005. According to the indictment, McKee used some of the embezzled funds for his own personal use, including using more than $15,000 to purchase jewelry. McKee used other embezzled funds to pay operational expenses of A Title Escrow Company. The embezzled funds enabled the otherwise insolvent A Title Escrow Company to continue in business, which allowed McKee to obtain thousands of dollars in salary and to hire family members and personal friends as A Title Escrow Company employees.
The indictment also charges McKee with having embezzled title insurance premiums A Title Escrow Company had collected from its customers on behalf of Stewart Title Company. Instead of remitting those premiums to Stewart Title Company, the indictment charges that McKee embezzled and misappropriated those premiums to his own use and for the use of A Title Escrow Company.
Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison without parole, and a fine of up to $250,000, as well as any restitution ordered by the court. If McKee is convicted, his actual sentence will be determined by a United States District Court Judge, guided by the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The case is being investigated by the Rockford Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted in federal court by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph C. Pedersen.
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-In-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, made the announcement.
Members of the public are reminded that a criminal indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which time the government has the burden of proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.