A New Jersey title company owner has admitted to stealing more than $5 million entrusted to him to pay off mortgage loans.
Louis Macaluso, 47, pleaded guilty to theft and misconduct by a corporate official, according to a statement from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. The state has recommended that Mancuso, who will be sentenced in January, receive at least 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
“Real estate sales frequently attract con artists because of the huge sums of money involved,” said Acting N.J. Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “It is particularly alarming, however, when individuals who run licensed businesses engage in theft, because their crimes undermine confidence in the industry. We will continue to work closely with the Department of Banking and Insurance to uncover such crimes and aggressively prosecute those who abuse their licenses.”
Between July of 2010 and September of 2012, Macaluso – owner of Affinity Title Agency Inc. – received money from various homeowners to pay off 34 outstanding mortgages on properties in New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Prosecutors say that rather than paying off the mortgages, Macaluso diverted $5.3 million for his own use or the use of Affinity. The mortgages were ultimately paid off by the title companies that had insured the titles on the properties, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
“Although title insurers and lenders frequently bear the cost of fraud in the real estate market, they ultimately pass it on to home buyers in the form of higher premiums and loan rates,” said Director Elie Honig of the N.J. Division of Criminal Justice. “We’re working hard to prosecute white collar crime, because insecurity in the business environment harms all businesses and consumers.”