Escrow Embezzler Gets 3 Years

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The former escrow officer who embezzled nearly $140,000 from a local title company in 2000 was sentenced Wednesday to three years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Whang Suh, 27, was an escrow officer at First American Title when he wrote checks to himself off of homeowners' escrow accounts.

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Whang Suh

By the time the embezzlement was discovered, Suh had already absconded to New York. Payson Police Det. Steve Johnson said Suh lived a comfortable life there for the next four years until Port Authority officers in New Jersey nabbed him in January 2004 as he was returning from London.

Suh was extradited back to Payson and found guilty of three counts of theft and two counts of fraudulent schemes in February 2005 following a jury trial in Globe.

Deputy Gila County Attorney Patti Wortman said Judge Robert Duber ordered Suh to also pay restitution to First American Title in the amount of $128,397.30

"(Duber) ordered a fine in the amount of $51,358.91 plus a surcharge of 80 percent," Wortman said. "A fine can be for anything and in this case, (Duber) said he calculated the interest on the money that was taken over a period of four years, which is the time (Suh) had been gone."

Duber said that some of the fine money could be used to compensate First American Title employees who may have lost out on bonuses because of the theft, Wortman said.

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