Just a few short weeks ago we reported on the unusual suicide, due to self-inflicted nail-gun wounds, of Richard Talley, CEO of Denver-based American Title Services. The death of the 57-year-old banker was accompanied by the fact that his firm was under investigation by the insurance regulators, and now, as The Denver Post reports, state prosecutors launched a criminal investigation and a grand jury over more than $2 million missing from escrow accounts. As part of that inquiry, investigators have seized about 100 boxes of documents and about 60 computers as records suggest the seemingly successful title business had serious financial problems. Talley’s wife, Cheryl, who owns the other 60% of the firm has not commented.
Via The Denver Post,
Talley, 56, owned 40 percent of the company he founded with his wife, Cheryl, who owns the other 60 percent, according to bankruptcy records.
Cheryl Talley did not respond to efforts by The Denver Post to reach her.
The Arapahoe County coroner’s office said Talley shot himself in the chest seven times with 2½ -inch finish nails from a nail gun before firing a fatal nail into his head. Police found him dressed for work, sitting in his car in the garage and with the motor running.
Records show Title Resources was to confront Talley about the missing escrow funds the morning he died.
State prosecutors launched a criminal investigation and a grand jury into bankrupt American Title Services just days after its CEO killed himself with a nail gun, according to federal court records.
Meanwhile, the title insurance company for which American Title was writing policies said more than $2 million is missing from escrow accounts the Greenwood Village company maintained on real estate closings.
In its lawsuit, Title Resources said it first uncovered discrepancies in ledgers kept by American Title and America’s Home Title, a related company, in late January. The ledgers “appeared to be altered to create the facade of balanced trust accounts.”
Title companies handle large amounts of money in closing real estate transactions, keeping funds in trust or escrow and then paying them to the appropriate party.
Dallas-based Title Resources said in its lawsuit that American Title’s controller, Bill Krieg, has admitted that money was misappropriated from the escrow accounts, but the extent of the alleged embezzlement is unclear.
Title Resources said it was forced to pay about $2 million in missing escrow funds — money set aside in real estate transactions to cover costs such as utilities, taxes and property liens such as mortgages — and that affected consumers will not be impacted.
Krieg has not responded to efforts to reach him.
American Title’s bankruptcy showed it owed about $40,000 in back rent to the owners of the Greenwood Village office tower that housed its headquarters, and about $36,000 in rent to other landlords of its branch offices.
This does not come entirely as a shock… as we noted previously,
A checkered past?
Before coming to Colorado, Talley was a former regional financial officer at Drexel Burnham Lambert in Chicago, where he met his wife, Cheryl, a vice president at the company. The two married in 1989.
Talley had formed a number of companies, some now defunct, according to the Colorado secretary of state’s office. Among them: American Escrow, Clear Title, Clear Creek Financial Holdings, Swift Basin, Sumar, American Real Estate Services, and the American Alliance of Real Estate Professionals.
It would appear, unfortunately, that Mr. Talley was not an entirely honest man…
Talley’s 1989 wedding announcement in the Chicago Tribune noted he was “a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic swimming team.”
A spokeswoman for USA Swimming on Thursday said Talley was not on the team.