By Workplace of Performing United States Legal professional Jonathan F. Lenzner
GREENBELT, Md. (March 26, 2021)—A federal felony grievance has been filed charging Brian Edward Steuart, age 52, of Huntingtown, Maryland, and Jamie Lynn Alford (previously often known as Jamie Lynn Steuart), age 44, of Port Republic, Maryland, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a monetary establishment, in reference to an alleged scheme to siphon off a portion of closing funds they collected whereas appearing as settlement brokers in sure actual property transactions. The felony grievance was filed on March 18, 2021, and was unsealed on the defendant’s preliminary look right now.
The felony grievance was introduced by Performing United States Legal professional for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Particular Agent in Cost Mark P. Higgins of the Federal Housing Finance Company (FHFA), Workplace of Inspector Normal (OIG); and Performing Particular Agent in Cost Shawn Rice of the Division of Housing and City Improvement (HUD), Workplace of Inspector Normal (OIG).
In accordance with the affidavit filed in assist of the felony grievance, Steuart and Alford have been husband and spouse from June 2008 till September 2017. Starting in August 2011, Steuart and Alford have been settlement brokers for Firm 1, a title and settlement firm situated in Prince Frederick, Maryland, which closed actual property transactions for properties in Maryland and Virginia. Steuart and Alford have been answerable for closing mortgage loans used to buy or refinance properties, reviewing property titles, issuing title insurance coverage, facilitating closings, and guaranteeing that the land information have been correctly filed and recorded. Steuart and Alford additionally had a fiduciary responsibility to all events concerned in every actual property transaction, together with to precisely account for, gather, and disburse settlement funds from the vendor, the client, and the lender, with a purpose to shut a transaction.
The affidavit alleges that Steuart and Alford violated their fiduciary responsibility by embezzling funds from unsuspecting shoppers throughout actual property closings from at the least 2011 to 2017, from each consumers and sellers, from Firm 1, and even from a deceased vendor’s property. The fraud was usually achieved by inflating or inventing numerous charges or taxes, creating false entries in settlement paperwork, and creating cast or altered checks. Steuart and Alford allegedly wrote checks to themselves, wrote checks payable to one another, or have been collectively made the payee on checks. The affidavit alleges that the defendants deposited the fraudulently obtained funds straight into joint accounts for the advantage of each of them.
In accordance with the affidavit, with a purpose to conceal their fraudulent actions from people inside and outdoors Firm 1, Steuart and Alford falsified the settlement statements and altered or fabricated financial institution statements. The fabricated financial institution statements allegedly had starting and ending balances that have been considerably decrease than the true quantities in keeping with the precise financial institution information. As well as, data such because the date or quantity for deposits, withdrawals, credit, or checks have been allegedly additionally inaccurate and there have been checks added or lacking in a few of the fabricated statements.
As detailed within the affidavit, between 2011 and 2017 Steuart acquired a complete of $735,825.63 from Firm 1—each lawfully and unlawfully. Nonetheless, he allegedly reported his wage to the State of Maryland for that point interval to be solely $208,168.50. Between 2011 and 2016 Alford allegedly acquired a complete of $653,537.91 from Firm 1 for all sources—each lawful and illegal. Nonetheless, she allegedly reported her wage to the State of Maryland for that point interval to be solely $302,462.50.
If convicted, Steuart and Alford every face a most sentence of 30 years in federal jail for wire fraud affecting a monetary establishment. Precise sentences for federal crimes are usually lower than the utmost penalties. A federal district court docket choose will decide any sentence after making an allowance for the U.S. Sentencing Pointers and different statutory elements. At right now’s preliminary look in U.S. District Court docket in Greenbelt, U.S. Justice of the Peace Decide Timothy J. Sullivan ordered that the defendants be launched pending trial.
A felony grievance is just not a discovering of guilt. A person charged by felony grievance is presumed harmless until and till confirmed responsible at some later felony proceedings.
Performing United States Legal professional Jonathan F. Lenzner counseled the FHFA OIG and the HUD OIG for his or her work within the investigation and thanked the Calvert County Sheriff’s Workplace, the Maryland State Police, and the Anne Arundel County Police Division for his or her help. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Morgan and Erin B. Pulice, who’re prosecuting the case.