Former Scranton Area Title Company Agent Agrees To Plead Guilty To Mail Fraud
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Christine Tufts, age 43, of Virginia, has agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud. Tufts was indicted by a federal grand jury in Scranton on August 14, 2012.
According to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith, Tufts was the owner of Foremost Settlement Services, Inc., which had an office in Moosic, PA. Tufts was an agent of First American Title Insurance Company. The indictment charged that from 2006 to 2008, Tufts issued title insurance on behalf of First American to clients who owned properties in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties. The clients took out mortgages to pay off prior mortgages or other loans.
Tufts allegedly falsely represented to First American that the proceeds of the mortgage funds were being used to pay off the prior mortgages or other loans when, in fact, she allegedly kept the money for herself.
The plea agreement was filed with the court on April 5. The case is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Richard P. Conaboy.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the prosecution is assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorna Graham.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
In this particular case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 20 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.