News and Press Releases

Copley man charged in $1 million bank and mortgage fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2012

 

Stephen P. Connolly, a title agent licensed who owns Trident Title and Secura Title, was charged via a criminal information in a bank and mortgage fraud scheme involving four properties in the Akron and Cleveland areas in which Connolly diverted over $1 million in loan proceeds to his own personal use, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Connolly, 51, of Copley, Ohio, was charged with two counts of bank fraud, three counts of wire fraud and one count of bankruptcy fraud detailing the fraud scheme.

The information alleges that between April 5, 2005 and February 28, 2007, Connolly, as the owner of Trident Title and Secura Title, acted as the title agent on four properties, located in Akron, Canal Fulton, Copley and North Ridgeville. As the title agent, Connolly was responsible for using the mortgage loan proceeds wired from the second lender to pay off the lender holding the first mortgage loan once the second lender approved and funded the purchase or refinance loan application.

Rather than paying off the mortgage loan held by the first lender, Connolly set up a personal bank account in the name that was very similar to the first lender's company name and diverted the funds to that account or directly to his personal bank accounts, and converted the loan proceeds to his personal use, according to the information.

Connolly attempted to conceal the fraud by paying the first mortgage lenders in hopes that he would be able to pay them back, eventually, and no one would discover he diverted the money for his personal use. However, Connolly was not able to keep up with the payments and the properties went into foreclosure. Once Connolly realized he could not keep up with the mortgage payments and the properties were going into foreclosure, he initiated the proceedings to file for bankruptcy and falsified his bankruptcy filing by failing to list the income he received in the form of the diverted mortgage proceeds into his personal accounts, rather than paying off the first mortgage loans on the properties, according to the information.

As a result of the scheme, Connolly diverted over $1 million of the loan proceeds to his personal use, and caused substantial losses to the lenders and purchasers of the properties.

If convicted, Defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including Defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, Defendant’s role in the offenses, and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark S. Bennett and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Micah Ault and Dean Wyman, following an investigation by the Canton Offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Ohio Department of Insurance.

An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

 

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