An Ellicott City woman pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday for misusing more than $1.5 million in mortgage closing funds, federal prosecutors announced.
Harriet M. Taylor, 56, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for comingling mortgage lenders' money that should have been in escrow accounts with the operating accounts of two Columbia title insurance companies, according to a statement from Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office.
Taylor co-owned and managed the companies, Regal Title Co. LLC and Loyalty Title Co. LLC, the statement said.
Starting in 2009, Taylor "caused mortgage lenders to wire their funds entrusted for real estate settlements" into Regal's operating account, instead of an escrow account, prosecutors said.
She also moved money from escrow accounts into Regal and Loyalty's operating accounts, and used it for her own salary and to keep her businesses running, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. In 2009, Taylor paid herself $477,877.50 from operating accounts, prosecutors said.
Audits of Regal and Loyalty by a title insurance underwriter, Old Republic National Title Insurance Co., revealed Taylor's misuse of funds. Old Republic lost more than $1.5 million because of Taylor's failure to make lien payments, cover recording fees and submit insurance premiums.
Taylor is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of January.