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For Immediate Release
May 16, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

FORMER BANKER'S TITLE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
CONVICTED OF FELONY THEFT AND INSURANCE FRAUD CHARGES

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that Edwin J. Kirby, Jr., 67, former chief operating officer of Banker's Title Company, a Towson-based real estate settlement company, pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to stealing over $1,200,000 from the escrow accounts of customers of Bankers Title. The Honorable J. Norris Byrnes sentenced Kirby to eight years incarceration and suspended all but nine months of that sentence. Upon his release, Kirby will be on probation for five years. As a condition of that probation, the court ordered Kirby to continue to pay $700 per month in restitution.

According to the statement of facts presented by the prosecutor, the court learned that as early as 1993, Kirby began taking money out of escrow accounts to cover the company's operating costs as well as certain personal expenditures. Kirby was able to avoid detection by maintaining three separate escrow accounts. When title insurers would come to review financial records, he would show them the records of only one escrow account, transferring money from the other accounts to make it appear as if there were funds available to meet all escrow obligations. Investigative analysis of all his accounts from 1997 until the company's demise in February 2000 detected literally hundreds of money transfers between accounts.

"Mr. Kirby stole over a million dollars from customers who trusted him to escrow their money as instructed," Attorney General Curran said. "People who are in the process of purchasing a home should not have to worry that the money they've entrusted to their title company will be stolen."

The conviction follows a joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and the Insurance Fraud Division of the Maryland Insurance Administration

 

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