OGDEN -- Former title company owner Russell Charles Maughan has pleaded guilty to charges of theft and communications fraud for embezzling client's funds.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, charges of money laundering, obstruction of justice, and unlawful dealings by a fiduciary were dismissed. The pleas last week canceled Maughan's trial, set for May before 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde. Sentencing is set for April 24.
In June, Maughan was charged with theft and obstruction of justice regarding $325,000 his company held for the Weber School District after the sale of district property to the city of Huntsville in the fall 2011.
In February, additional charges including the money laundering count, were filed and Maughan was jailed and held without bail.
In the new charges, Maughan was accused of moving stolen money through multiple bank accounts and, as the probable cause affidavit written by the Ogden Police Department's veteran and succinct financial crimes detective Rich Childress wrote, "spending it."
The transactions involving several hundred thousand dollars took place from August 2012 through January this year -- after his June arrest on the initial charges.
The money was taken from the escrow account of a married couple, court records say.
Maughan's business, Home Abstract and Title Co., was located, ironically, next door to the Weber County Attorney's Office in the Weber Center building downtown.
The office is now prosecuting him.
The company was closed last summer by the home office, which also contacted regulators in the Utah Insurance Department, sparking an investigation by that agency as well.
Childress was also called in when the school district never received the sale proceeds of the 6-acre Huntsville deal, which had been held in an escrow account maintained by Maughan. Police say Maughan misappropriated the money from both victims for his business and personal use.