Monday, May 18, 2009

Woman sentenced for draining $1.3 million from E. Providence title-insurance firm

By W. Zachary Malinowski

Journal Staff Writer

An emotionally charged Angela Raposo stood before the court Friday and blamed her addiction to painkillers for her felonious ways.

Raposo, in loud halting sobs, told U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith that dependence on drugs was responsible for her looting more than $1.3 million from company accounts at her title-insurance firm in East Providence.

“I’m sorry, but sorry is not good enough,” Raposo said. “I’m a good person. I’m a good mother. I just messed up.”

Smith wasn’t satisfied. He felt that Raposo, who had pleaded guilty to wire fraud, was too quick to blame her descent on drugs. He wanted to know why no one in her close-knit family from Riverside didn’t notice her reckless spending on houses, cars, jewelry and vacations.

“There was $1.3 million wandering through the family coffers,” Smith said. “Did anybody ask, ‘Where are the cars and homes coming from?’ ”

Ralph E. Chiodo, Raposo’s lawyer, said her parents never bothered to ask.

In the end, Smith did show compassion for Raposo, 33, who has a 7-year-old daughter. Instead of imposing a sentence of 41 months, Smith gave her break and sent her to prison for two years. He rebuffed Chiodo’s suggestion that she serve her time in home confinement.

“I think if you spend some time in prison, you’ll understand the seriousness of this offense,” he said. “I do want to get you back to your family. I hope that you will see the light when you get out.”

Smith also said that the sooner Raposo returns to work, the sooner she can begin repaying more than $1.2 million in restitution to Stewart Title Guaranty Co. Raposo’s firm, Title America Closing Services LLC, was a limited agent that issued title-insurance policies and acted as Stewart Title’s mortgage transfer agent.

The FBI launched an investigation into the missing money in April 2007 amid allegations that Raposo and her husband, Marco Raposo, might have emptied more than $800,000 from client accounts at Title America, which was located in a shopping plaza at 855 Waterman Ave.

Federal prosecutors cleared Marco Raposo of any wrongdoing.

At a plea hearing last November, Andrew J. Reich, an assistant U.S. Attorney, told the court that the government could prove that between February 2006 and February 2007, Raposo wrote checks and used a personal debit card against her firm’s escrow account to pay for a variety of personal expenses. Those expenses included mortgage payments, residential utility bills, hair salon fees, cosmetics, clothing, personal trips, a car and payments to relatives.

The proceeds from real-estate deals were deposited into an escrow account and they were supposed to be used for disbursement for real-estate closings, primarily to pay off existing mortgages.

As the underwriter, Stewart Title had to pay off mortgages totaling more than $1.3 million from the Raposos’ mortgage and four others including one in Richmond and another in Brea, Calif.

Yesterday, Raposo told the court that she got hooked on painkillers after undergoing a knee operation several years ago. She said that she was taking as many as “60 pills a night,” and decided to undergo drug treatment after she crashed her car head-on into a truck.

Smith, the sentencing judge, was troubled with Raposo’s crime, which he said was driven by greed. He also was concerned about her history of “deceit,” that included separate incidents where she posed as a lawyer and a police officer. read More

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