Westfield man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after
pleading guilty in
October to stealing $5.3 million entrusted to him as a settlement agent to pay
off multiple mortgage loans from real estate properties he managed with his
company, Affinity Title Agency, Inc., Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman
announced on Friday.
Louis Macaluso, 47, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. He pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree charges of theft and misconduct by a corporate official. Under a plea agreement, he was sentenced to serve 10 years for each charge, which would run concurrently, Hoffman said.
Macaluso admitted he did not use the $5.3 million to pay off 34 outstanding mortgage loans on properties in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio between July 2010 and September 2012. Instead, he used the funds for personal use or his company, Affinity Title Agency, Inc., according to the Attorney General’s Office.
“Macaluso treated his license as a title insurer like it was a license to steal,” Hoffman said. "This lengthy prison sentence should deter other dishonest operators in the industry who might be tempted to steal the large sums entrusted to them as fiduciaries.”
The companies that insured the titles on the properties ended up paying off the mortgages of the homeowners in full. New Jersey Title Insurance Co., Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. and Title Resource Guaranty Co. suffered losses during the transactions and filed a lawsuit against Macaluso, who is required to pay full restitution, the office said. He has made an initial payment of $700,000.
“Individuals involved in home sales and the companies that finance and insure these transactions need to be able to trust that the licensed agents handling the transactions will act with honesty and integrity,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “When agents like Macaluso breach that trust and steal, we will prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”