Columbia woman sentenced for mortgage fraud, embezzlement

2 years 1 month 3 weeks ago January 29, 2015 Jan 29, 2015 Thursday, January 29 2015 Thursday, January 29, 2015 8:35:00 AM CST in News
By: Christina Santiago, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

JEFFERSON CITY - A Columbia woman has been sentenced in federal court for a $576,000 mortgage fraud and embezzlement scheme.

U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes sentenced Terri Lynn Johnson, 50, to two years and six months in federal prison without parole Wednesday. The court also ordered Johnson to pay $405,653 in restitution.

Johnson began working in a clerical position for Guaranty Land Title Company in 2001. After the company was acquired by Landchoice Company, LLC, she was promoted to branch manager of the Fulton office, where she remained until 2008.

On July 11, 2013, Johnson pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering. Johnson admitted to engaging in a $300,000 mortgage fraud scheme while working as the Fulton branch manager. Johnson refinanced the mortgage on her residence twice. Two banks approved mortgage loans for $175,000 in 2007 and $125,000 in 2008, based on false information Johnson provided. Both loans exceeded the appraised value of Johnson's residence, which was used to secure both loans.

Johnson also admitted to embezzling $276,173 from Landchoice. Johnson diverted income checks from Landchoice into a bank account that had been opened for Guaranty Land Title Company, which her employer did not know existed. She also diverted escrow funds obtained by Landchoice for loan closings, into that account.

Johnson then wrote checks to herself which she deposited into her personal checking account. Johnson wrote checks totaling approximately $59,465 payable to herself or to cash. Johnson also wrote checks to her personal business totaling approximately $12,500. She wrote checks believed to be for her personal use totaling approximately $19,916. In addition, Johnson utilized a debit card issued for the account, accessing $184,292 from that account for her personal benefit. Johnson gained approximately $276,173 for personal gain from this embezzlement scheme.

Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller prosecuted this case. The FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Fulton, Mo., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Department of Insurance.

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