Former Capital Title Co. owner Peter M. Shaw was sentenced Thursday to more than four years in prison and ordered to repay $3 million for looting accounts that held customer funds for real estate transactions, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Capital Title was shut down in January after an audit turned up missing funds, and thousands of real estate transactions were delayed while the company was put into a court-ordered receivership.

Shaw, 56, of Foristell, pleaded guilty Sept. 15 in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to two counts of mail fraud and one count of interstate transportation of stolen funds, reports said.

Shaw admitted fraudulently taking funds from escrow accounts, the accounts that are expected to hold a customer’s funds safely until a real estate transaction is completed, according to reports.

Shaw is the son of Charles M. Shaw, a well-known criminal defense lawyer who died in 2001, and the grandson of Charles A. Shaw, a mayor of Clayton after whom Shaw Park was named. His uncle is Tom Shaw, a real estate developer.

U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw, who is not related to Peter Shaw, said before issuing the sentence that by his actions Peter Shaw had thrown away the success he had achieved, reports said.

“You had a good situation going on, and you blew it,” the judge said, according to reports.

Capital Title is one of four title insurance agencies in the St. Louis area that have closed this year amid allegations of fraud by senior management. The chiefs of two of the other companies also have pleaded guilty to fraud charges in federal court, reports said.

First American Title Insurance Co., which sold title insurance policies through Capital Title, has paid $13 million to cover the loss of funds from escrow accounts.


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