The owner of a title company in Red Bank, N.J., has pleaded guilty to stealing $3.8 million in loan proceeds intended for payment of mortgage balances and other closing costs, according to an announcement from New Jersey State Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor.
Ronald P. Mas Jr., a mortgage broker, settlement agent and owner of Olde Gotham Title and Settlement Services LLC, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Thomas V. Manahan in Morris County this week to an accusation charging him with second-degree money laundering and second-degree theft by failure to make required disposition of property received.
Mas admitted that between April 1, 2009, and Feb. 15, 2010, he stole about $3.894 million that he received from various lenders for real estate closings on behalf of 11 home buyers throughout New Jersey. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 15.
The state will recommend that Mas be sentenced to 12 years in prison. He must execute a consent judgment to pay full restitution to the title company that insured the mortgages.
"This defendant stole millions of dollars entrusted to him for real estate closings, funneling the money into his personal investment account," Dow said in a statement. "This was a shameless betrayal of his fiduciary duty as a settlement agent."
The state investigation revealed that Mas diverted loan proceeds into his Ameritrade account. Instead of paying off the client's old mortgage, Mas would make monthly mortgage payments and invest the balance of the loan proceeds into the Ameritrade account. Mas made monthly payments on some mortgages using funds from new loans provided for clients.
At the end of February, Mas had a total loss of over $3.4 million in his Ameritrade account. As a result, 11 mortgages were not paid.