March 5, 2014
Insurance Agent Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nearly $1 Million From Homeowners, Title Insurance Companies and Taxpayers
Timoney, 55, used stolen money to pay child support, pay for personal expenses and maintain his other properties
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a Rockville Centre man pleaded guilty today for stealing nearly $1 million from two title insurance companies, a Great Neck couple, and the New York State Department of Labor.
Gerard Timoney, 55, of Rockville Centre, pleaded guilty today before Nassau County Court Judge Christopher Quinn to two counts of Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony) and two counts of Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree (a D felony). Prosecutors are requesting a sentence of 3 to 9 years in prison. Timoney is due back in court for sentencing on April 4.
Timoney was initially arrested in September 2012 and charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree for stealing $870,000 meant for the recording of deeds and mortgages, and recording fees and taxes. He was arrested again on Feb. 6 and charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree for stealing $37,504 placed in trust on behalf of two homeowners to pay property taxes, and for receiving $33,615 in unemployment benefits based on knowingly incomplete and false testimony.
“Mr. Timoney repeatedly abused the trust, not only of homeowners and companies, but of taxpayers who pay for benefits meant for those who lost their jobs due to no fault of their own,” DA Rice said. “These homeowners could have had their homes sold out from under them, and insurance companies could have faced even more losses due to the fraudulent actions of a thief who brazenly took advantage of those unfortunate enough to do business with him.”
DA Rice said that Timoney, a policy issuing agent and the former owner of TitleGuard Land Services, Inc., formerly in Rockville Centre, was retained by Stewart Title Insurance Company and Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company to issue title insurance policies in their names. A substantial part of TitleGuard’s business consisted of searching real estate titles, preparing certificates and reports of title, and appearing at real estate closings.
At the conclusion of these closings, TitleGuard was responsible for issuing title insurance policies in the two title insurance companies’ names, accepting deeds and mortgages for recording, and accepting its customers’ funds to pay recording feeds and taxes, and often agreed to hold and secure the payment of real estate taxes.
Commonwealth’s August 2009 audit uncovered that Timoney had not filed mortgages, paid mortgage taxes, or recorded deeds on 12 properties from 2008 through 2009, including two in Nassau County. The loss to Commonwealth was more than $270,000.
Stewart conducted an audit in June 2010 and discovered that Timoney had done the same thing on 90 properties in the New York area from 2007 through 2010, including 38 in Nassau County. The loss to Stewart was more than $600,000.
Instead of setting aside the funds in a segregated trust or escrow accounts to pay those expenses, Timoney stole the more than $870,000 and used it to pay his office’s payroll, pay child support, buy flowers and gardening supplies, make credit card payments, pay for personal expenses, and to maintain his other properties and businesses.
DA Rice said that by failing to record the deeds and mortgages, Timoney put his customers at serious risk. Homeowners whose deeds had not been filed could have had their homes sold out from underneath them and exposed Stewart and Commonwealth to potentially devastating liability.
In May 2010, a Great Neck couple obtained refinancing on a property located in Astoria. At the closing, all parties – including the settlement agent hired by TitleGuard – agreed that $37,504 would be applied for payment of New York City real estate taxes by TitleGuard on behalf of the homeowners two months after the closing. However, in September 2010 the homeowners discovered that the taxes had not been paid. By that time, TitleGuard had gone out of business. After the homeowners failed to recover the money from TitleGuard or their title insurance company, they filed a complaint with DA Rice’s Criminal Complaint Unit.
After closing TitleGuard in June 2010, Timoney applied for unemployment insurance in July 2010 and was denied. Testifying before the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board in November 2010, Timoney did not disclose that his business closed due to criminal misconduct or that a civil action had been filed against Timoney by Stewart and Commonwealth in August 2010. As a result of his false testimony, Timoney received $33,615 in unemployment benefits effective from June 14, 2010 to June 19, 2011. DA Rice’s office was informed by the New York State Department of Labor that Timoney would not have been eligible to receive those benefits given his loss of employment due to criminal misconduct.
Assistant District Attorney Victoria Curran of the Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Matthew Sotirhos of the Economic Crimes Bureau are prosecuting the case for DA Rice’s Office. Timoney is represented by Glenn Hardy, Esq.