INDICTED: Grand jury returns 15-count indictment against former owners of Brookfield title, closing company

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BROOKFIELD (WITI) — United States Attorney James Santelle announced that on February 18th, a grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Wisconsin returned a 15-count indictment against the former owners of New Horizon, LLC, a title and closing company that operated in Brookfield from 2006 to 2011.

The indictment charges 43-year-old Timothy Kugler of West Bend, 41-year-old Lisa Verken (formerly Lisa Kugler) of West Bend, and 46-year-old Michelle Hayes of Wauwatosa.

Each person is charged with participating in a bank fraud conspiracy, and with multiple counts of bank fraud, and false tax returns.

The indictment alleges that Kugler, Verken, and Hayes executed their fraud scheme by diverting more than $1.8 million of lender funds from the New Horizon escrow account into a separate account from which they issued checks to themselves and to each other. To conceal the fraud, the defendants withheld settlement disbursements and falsely told bank employees that overdrafts in the escrow account were the result of delayed wire deposits from funding lenders.

The indictment further alleges that the defendants altered bank statements to conceal the fraud from auditors working on behalf of their insurance underwriter, First American Title Insurance Company.

The tax counts are the result of the defendants’ failure to claim the embezzled funds on tax returns filed for the 2008 and 2009 tax years.

If convicted, each defendant faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine for the bank fraud conspiracy and each of the separate bank fraud counts, and up to five years in prison and a $100,000 fine for each of the tax counts.