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Miami Title Agency Owner Denied Bond Reduction, Charged with 41 Additional Counts of Escrow Theft

10/9/2003

CONTACT:
Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

MIAMI BEACH - James Georges Mourra, the former title agency owner charged last month with escrow theft, had hoped to get his $1 million bond reduced today. But the bond reduction was denied after investigators with the Department of Financial Services charged him with 41 additional felony counts this morning.

Mourra, 40, who founded Equitable Title Insurance Services Inc., in the late 1990s and closed it in May, is charged with stealing more than $5.5 million from property escrow accounts. Investigators with the department's Division of Insurance Fraud allege Mourra left several families homeless while he bought yachts, a Venetian Way home and seven luxury automobiles. The yachts, home and cars have all been placed in receivership. If convicted on all counts, Mourra now faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to 530 years in prison.

"This individual may have single-handedly destroyed the dream of home ownership for several families," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. "The charges and potential penalties are serious and reflect the seriousness of the allegations."

Mourra allegedly diverted the money from escrow accounts held by his company, Equitable Title Insurance Services, Inc. The accounts belonged to various homebuyers, homeowners, lenders and Attorney's Title Insurance Fund, Inc. Investigators said he transferred the money between April 12, 2002, and May 7, 2003, to personal accounts and entities he held.

The bond reduction hearing was held before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Pedro Echarte. The prosecution is being handled by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, Economic Crimes Unit.

The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to a conviction in complex insurance fraud schemes.