OGDEN -- The president of Home Abstract and Title Company Inc. has been charged amid allegations that he kept about $325,000 that should have been given to Weber School District for its sale of property last year to the city of Huntsville.
Russell Charles Maughan, 58, is scheduled to make an initial appearance in 2nd District Court on July 11 for theft and obstructing justice, both felonies. The charges against Maughan follow an Ogden police investigation.
Maughan could not be reached for comment.
Home Abstract and Title, is a 104-year-old company housed in the Weber Building at 2380 Washington Blvd., Suite 200.
The business, next door to the Weber County Attorney's Office, was closed about a month ago by its underwriter, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company, based in Minneapolis, Tammy Greening, an examiner for the Utah Insurance Department, said Thursday.
Old Republic officials notified the Utah Insurance Department, sparking the state investigation, Greening said.
Richard Monthei, regional auditor for Old Republic, declined to comment on the investigation.
The state's fraud investigation is expected to wrap up in the next few days, said Greening, who has been in contact with the Utah Attorney General's Office about the case.
The Insurance Department has inspected Home Abstract's bank records and escrow transactions, she added, declining to provide further details. Information was not available regarding whether the Ogden police and state Insurance Department investigations are separate or connected.
The state and police investigations stem from the Weber School District's sale last year to Huntsville of about 6 acres of vacant land where a Huntsville school once stood. The property is between First and Second streets across from Huntsville Park.
Huntsville paid $325,000 to Home Abstract for the property in October 2011, which in turn was to provide the funds to Weber School District, said Jenna Holt, who is Huntsville's attorney. The check cleared and Huntsville received the deed to the property, but Home Abstract reportedly didn't provide the sale proceeds to the school district.
Jeff Stephens, superintendent of Weber School District, said the district's business department unsuccessfully attempted to obtain the funds from Home Abstract.
"There were a series of misleading statements (about the status of the funds) from the president of Home Abstract that delayed our reporting it to police," Stephens said, adding the district has had a lengthy relationship with Home Abstract.
The funds from the Huntsville school property sale were to be used by Weber School District to fund a capital project.
Stephens said: "We will do everything we can to protect taxpayer dollars."