Pamela Sue Moore, a former title agent in southwestern Ohio, who was sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated theft after she used funds in her company's escrow account to buy her own house, has lost an appeal of her conviction.
Moore, who had worked in the title industry for over twenty years, was convicted last December in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court after a jury trial, finding that she had mishandled $360,000 in customer escrow funds at the title agency she owned, diverting the funds for her own benefit, including purchasing a house.
The Ohio Court of Appeals last week issued a decision rejecting all of Moore's claims that she had been denied a fair trial. Moore had claimed in her appeal that she had been improperly tried in the wrong county, had been denied the opportunity submit evidence rebutting the testimony of a former employee who testified against her, that the basic fact of who owned the money that she had allegedly stolen not been established, that certain testimony was incorrectly disallowed, and that the jury instructions were flawed, and may have caused the jury to convict her of a criminal charge even if she had only committed a civil violation of law.
In 2006, Moore, who had fallen behind on her rent payments on her residence at 6222 Flemington Rd. in Centerville, Ohio, and was facing eviction proceedings, approached her landlord with an offer to buy the home. She and her landlord agreed on a price of $190,000. But when Moore failed to obtain financing for her purchase, she instead used funds held in the escrow account of the title agency she owned, Dedicated Land Title Agency, LLC.-- money that was held in trust for customer transactions. As part of the closing, Moore, through Dedicated Land Title, paid approximately $144,000 from her escrow account to the seller’s mortgage company and about $39,000 in proceeds to the seller.
In addition, Moore paid $17,000 for office computer products and supplies for her company with funds from Dedicated Land Title’s escrow account.
As the housing market cooled in early 2007 and business at Dedicated Land Title began to slow, there was insufficient funds in the escrow account to effectively disguise the shortfall, and Moore began delaying payoff checks out of Dedicated Land Title's escrow account. Moore's employee at the time, Melissa Brown, became suspicious of Moore's conduct, and contacted prosecutors, who discovered Moore's theft. Before More was charged, however, Moore's underwriter, Chicago Title, audited Preferred Land Title and independently found irregularities, and took control of the company in August, 2007. Chicago Title eventually covered the losses incurred by Moore’s customers as a result of the theft. Moore's house was seized as part of her conviction for the benefit of the title insurer.