Title Lawyer Sentenced for Stealing Trust Funds
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 03, 2010|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office; and J. Thomas Cardwell, Commissioner, State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, announced that former attorney James B. Hayes, 57, of Boca Raton, Florida, was sentenced this morning by U.S. District Court Judge James Cohn to 70 months in prison. In addition, the court ordered Hayes to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $2,706,346.91. Hayes had pled guilty in September to two counts of making false statements on a HUD-1 Settlement Form, a matter within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.
According to the criminal information and statements made in court during today's sentencing hearing, Hayes practiced law from 2007 through December 2009 at James B. Hayes P.A., in Boca Raton, Florida, handling real estate closings for clients and mortgage lenders. During that time, Hayes misappropriated more than $2,706,346.91. This amount included funds that were used to payoff prior loans and client funds from the law firm's trust account.
Hayes was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court on August 24, 2010 and in his plea agreement agreed not to reapply or seek admission as an attorney in any state.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, FBI, and the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Mr. Ferrer also thanked title insurance companies Attorneys Title, Old Republic and Chicago Title, and The Florida Bar for their assistance in this investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey H. Kay and Larry Bardfeld of the Fort Lauderdale Office.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.