A 56-year-old Ellicott City woman was able to pay herself nearly $478,000 in one year and keep two businesses afloat using clients’ escrow money, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As the accounts grew slimmer, Harriet M. Taylor stopped paying the accounts' underwriter and she was eventually audited, officials said.
On Wednesday, Taylor pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with the scheme, in which she used more than $1.5 million in mortgage closing funds for personal use and to keep her title companies in business, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Taylor co-owned and managed Regal Title Company, LLC and Loyalty Title Company, LLC, both based in Columbia. According to the statement, she used Old Republic National Title Insurance Company to establish escrow accounts for her two companies to hold and allocate money from lenders for real estate closings.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Taylor began having mortgage lenders wire money to Regal’s operating account instead of its escrow account. She also transferred money back and forth from the companies’ operating and escrow accounts, using the joint funds to keep her businesses afloat and to pay herself $477,877.50 in 2009, according to the statement.
Taylor will be sentenced Jan. 17. She faces 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.