The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Illinois paralegal Catherine Weaver and her former employer, Picklin and Lake, a Rolling Meadows law firm, are the defendants in a lawsuit filed today by Republic Title Company in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that Ms. Weaver used the law firm’s escrow account to steal in excess of one million dollars and that her employers were negligent in failing to detect the fraudulent conduct.
“This is a simple case of greed by the employee and negligence on the part of the leadership at the law firm,” said Mark D. Belongia of Belongia, Shapiro & Hynes, LLP, one of the attorneys for Republic Title Company. “Republic Title Company and their customers were completely deceived and have been taken advantage of by someone who was in a position of trust.”
Ms. Weaver is accused of transferring money from real estate closings held by Republic Title Company since December 2007. She allegedly demanded that the title company send mortgage loan payoffs to the firm’s escrow account, and then wrote checks to herself, supposedly signed by a firm partner, using several different banks to cash them. She was exposed in January 2009 when she asked the title company to issue a check in excess of $300,000.00 – for a closing that never took place.
See The Earth Times.
There’s not much information available as of today on the Internet, other than Republic Title Company’s press release. This will be an interesting case to follow, due to the amount of funds allegedly stolen, the possibility that mortgage payoffs did not reach their intended destinations, and the paralegal’s supervising attorneys being named as defendants in a civil suit. But on its face, this sounds like another unsupervised paralegal grossly abusing a firm’s trust account – in a best case scenario, due to the firm’s insufficient checks and balances system for its own finances.