U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
(813) 274-6000
December 4, 2014

Venice Escrow Agent Sentenced for Role in Wire Fraud Investment Scheme

TAMPA, FL—Senior U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew has sentenced Stephen J. Cormier (42, Nokomis) to three years and five months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of his sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $4.7 million, the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme. He pleaded guilty on March 5, 2013.

According to court documents, Cormier was the sole owner of a title insurance company, A Clear Title and Escrow Exchange (ACTEE), located in Venice, Florida. Part of the business of ACTEE was to write title insurance policies and hold escrow monies in connection with real estate and business transactions. In his capacity as a licensed escrow agent, Cormier received funds from various individuals that were the proceeds of fraudulent activity, including investments that had been made by numerous investor-victims related to “synthetic” financial transactions. These transactions generally involved promises of high rates of return within a short time period, and have been publicly labelled as fraudulent by the Securities and Exchange Commission and other financial authorities. Cormier also disbursed those funds at the request and direction of other co-conspirators. As an escrow agent, he made false representations to the victims as to the status and amount of their deposited funds. The total amount of investor funds Cormier handled was approximately $4.7 million.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Sarasota County Sherriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jay L. Hoffer and Cherie Krigsman.

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