Man targeted over funds sues his wife


Joseph E. Goldberg Sr., under state investigation for $2.3 million missing from his now-defunct settlement company and on the run from creditors, has emerged long enough to file a suit accusing his estranged wife and seven of her relatives of theft.

Among the items he claims they stole from his houses in Howard County and Western Maryland: an in-ground pool, a Jacuzzi, AK-47 rifles and 4,000 rounds of ammunition.

Mr. Goldberg, 41, contends in the suit that he has "lost the quiet, comfort, solace and enjoyment of his property" and as a result now suffers from "severe depression."

But Diane L. Goldberg, Mr. Goldberg's estranged wife, said, "All I can say is, Joe needs to take a hard look in the mirror at himself if he's saying people were stealing from him."

All of the others named in the suit are Mrs. Goldberg's relatives. They include her parents, Anthony and June Liberto.

Mr. Goldberg referred comment on the suit to Preston Pairo III, an Ellicott City attorney who says Mr. Goldberg consulted him earlier this week about the case.

Mr. Goldberg, who operated the now-defunct Land Title Research of Maryland in Ellicott City, dropped out of sight in October, soon after the state shut his company and seized its records and assets.

State authorities took action after receiving complaints from homebuyers and title insurance underwriters that the company had not paid off mortgages or filed critical legal papers in court.

No criminal charges have been filed against Mr. Goldberg nor anyone else connected with Land Title. But the state is investigating what happened to the missing money -- most of it funds that were supposed to have been used to pay off mortgages for property settlement transactions that Land Title handled.

State insurance officials have characterized the case as one of the worst incidents of mishandling property insurance and settlement money in Maryland history. Ownership of dozens of properties in virtually every county in Maryland may be at risk because of the company's failure to pay off mortgages and file legal papers, state insurance officials have testified.

The Goldberg case and an investigation published in December by The Sun, which revealed inadequate state control of the title insurance business, led to tough new insurance regulations passed by the General Assembly this month.

Investigators have said they have not been able to locate Mr. Goldberg to interview him about money missing from his company. Mrs. Goldberg said the last time she saw Mr. Goldberg was in January.

Mr. Pairo said he could not say where Mr. Goldberg is.

On April 12, however, Mr. Goldberg filed the suit in Howard County Circuit Court.

The suit asks $2.5 million in damages.

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