Settlement Agent Pleads Guilty to Embezzling
The former president of National Settlement Agency pleaded guilty Thursday to felony charges of embezzling the proceeds of mortgage refinancing transactions, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday. Steven Leff used NSA, which acted as settlement agent for numerous FDIC insured banks including Pasadena-based thrift IndyMac Bancorp (IMB), to embezzle the proceeds of several refinance loans, which should have been used to pay off the outstanding principal amounts on the prior mortgages. As part of his guilty plea, Leff admitted that, in total, he stole more than $13 million in refinanced loan proceeds. Leff, 45, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. "In the midst of a mortgage refinancing boom, the defendant took advantage of his position as a trusted agent of lender banks to embezzle mortgage loan proceeds for his personal gain," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Benton Campbell. "The mortgage refinance process relies on all parties to a transaction acting with honesty and integrity. When banks and borrowers are defrauded by one whose job it is to act on their behalf, we will seek to bring the wrongdoer to justice." "Leff was entrusted with large sums of money intended to be disbursed to others in the refinancing process," said Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI New York Field Division Mark J. Mershon. who assisted on the case. "In simple terms, he stole much of it."