The former owner of an Ohio title insurance agency has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $7 million in restitution for allegedly stealing escrow funds from hundreds of individuals and businesses.

Steve Clayton, the former owner of Equity Land Title Insurance Inc., allegedly used a check kiting scheme from 1995 to 2002 to pay previously closed real estate transactions for which he had already spent the funds.

The former owner of an Ohio title insurance agency has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $7 million in restitution for allegedly stealing escrow funds from hundreds of individuals and businesses.

Steve Clayton, the former owner of Equity Land Title Insurance Inc., allegedly used a check kiting scheme from 1995 to 2002 to pay previously closed real estate transactions for which he had already spent the funds.

According to the Ohio Department of Insurance, Clayton spent the stolen money on trips to Disney World, box seats to Cincinnati Bengals and Reds games, tickets to a professional golf tournament, gambling trips to Las Vegas, cruises and expensive cars. Some of the victimized people and businesses with title insurance have been made whole by several title insurance companies and banking institutions.

The scheme was discovered in 2002 after a routine audit by underwriter First American Title Insurance, and Clayton’s agent license was suspended. Ohio this year instituted mandatory annual reviews of title agents’ escrow accounts by certified public accountants.

Clayton was found guilty of multiple counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, aggravated theft, and money laundering. His sentence was handed down Aug. 25 in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

***

What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
We are less than 1 week away from Inman Connect! Get your ticket for $99 before prices go up next week.GET YOUR TICKET×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription