The owner of a Towson title agency was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for defrauding lenders out of $3.9 million in eight months, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office announced Friday.
Anthony V. Weis, 45, pleaded guilty to charges of mail and wire fraud and was ordered to report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to begin his sentence May 17. The president of Maple Leaf Title also was ordered to pay $4 million in restitution to 13 victims and their insurance companies.
One of the victims, Suzanne Hall, recounted last summer how her Cockeysville house went into foreclosure when she tried to refinance her adjustable-rate mortgage through Maple Leaf, which took her money but failed to pay off her old loan.
"The one thing I really learned in all this was that the title company holds the reins on all your money," Hall said in an interview in June, the day Weis was indicted on the fraud charges. "I realized in all this that my money was exposed by one man controlling the company."
Federal authorities said the scheme worked virtually the same way in all the cases. Customers such as Hall sought to refinance — in her case, she wanted a conventional 30-year fixed loan, and for her interest rate to drop from 6 percent to just over 5 percent. She would have saved $150 a month in payments.
On the advice of a friend, Hall hired Maple Leaf to broker the transaction between the bank that held her old mortgage and the bank that was to assume the new mortgage. Maple Leaf took $379,000 from PNC Bank and was supposed to pay off the old loan held by MetLife.
But the money never reached its destination. Federal prosecutors said Weis instead kept the money in his business. MetLife then put the house into foreclosure proceedings, and Hall was stuck with two mortgage payments to two different lenders for the same house.
In an interview this past summer, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein called the scheme "perplexing" because it was obvious that money wasn't being delivered from one lender to another. "Perpetrators should realize that they are almost certain to be caught sooner or later," he said.
The case was investigated by prosecutors in the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force.