A woman formerly from Forest Lake, Minnesota has recently been sentenced in the largest theft case in Washington County history. The woman has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for defrauding clients of $1.2 million from multiple property transactions.
The 51-year-old woman ran a real estate title closing company called Strand Closing Services Inc. in Forest Lake, Minnesota. Clients provided the woman’s company with funds to pay off home mortgages, taxes and title companies related to real estate closings. The woman was accused of using funds from transactions she worked on for her own use.
The woman conducted about 40 real estate transactions before moving to Fort Myers, Florida. The City of Forest Lake was one of the woman’s victims and lost $204,819 in property transactions. The woman’s biggest victim was RiverBank. The bank lost almost $600,000 in the sale of an apartment building. Homeowners who worked with the woman lost between $3,092 to $81,357.
The 51-year-old woman was initially charged with around 36 felony counts. The woman admitted to two counts of theft by swindle and three counts of theft by false representation. The woman’s husband was initially charged with related crimes but those charges were later dropped.
On Friday the woman was sentenced to 68 months in prison. An attorney for Washington County said the series of fraudulent transactions threatens the dream of many Americans to own a home. Washington County has bolstered its efforts to detect mortgage fraud and believes all county prosecutors’ offices should have knowledge on the issue.
In addition to prison time, the woman was also ordered to pay restitution with wages she earns in prison.
Source: Star Tribune, “Five-plus years for $1.2 million fraud,” Jim Anderson, Aug.8, 2011