Mo. title firm owner pleads guilty in fraud scheme -

Mo. title firm owner pleads guilty in fraud scheme

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- The owner of a former title company in southwest Missouri has pleaded guilty in a $2.7 million fraud scheme involving stolen escrow payments.

Federal prosecutors say 59-year-old Richard G. Burton of Nixa faces up to 40 years in prison following his guilty pleas Tuesday to two conspiracy counts.

Burton was president of Nixa-based Guaranty Title Co. of Southwest Missouri, which had several branch offices.

Burton was charged with defrauding mortgage companies and individual customers of escrow money wired to his company to pay real estate closing costs. Burton admitted diverting more than $2 million of the escrow funds to finance his own company's operations.

He also tried to hide the criminal activities through a check-kiting scheme that ultimately cost one bank more nearly $700,000.

A sentencing date will be set later.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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