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Real Estate Title Company Investigated

April 15, 2005

DENVER (AP) State regulators said Thursday they are investigating a real estate title company after an allegation that one of its owners improperly withdrew about $900,000 from escrow accounts.

The Colorado Division of Insurance said it was investigating Arthur M. Vasquez of Alta Vista Title. The 2-year-old company closed on Monday.

The investigation began after Stewart Title Guaranty Co. filed a complaint in Denver District Court saying Vasquez had told Stewart Title he had "improperly withdrawn" money and had a plan to repay it, but never did.

Vasquez's lawyer, former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter, said Vasquez is cooperating with investigators. Ritter said the inquiry began after Stewart Title contacted the insurance division. He declined further comment.

Alta Vista, which billed itself as the "first independently owned Latino title company in the nation," worked with Stewart Title, soliciting applications for title insurance and collecting premiums.

In its court complaint, Stewart Title said the alleged misappropriations began in June 2004. "By its own admission, Alta Vista is in severe financial distress and unable to pay its operating expenses," the complaint said.

The investigation of Vasquez and Alta Vista is unrelated to investigations of out-of-state title companies allegedly involved in kickback schemes, Insurance Commissioner Doug Dean said.

Former Alta Vista employee Heather McCloud, who resigned Friday, said the company was a good organization and Vasquez "truly was a great man."

"I respected him personally and professionally. Hopefully, he can rebound. People make mistakes," she said.

Copyright Associated Press

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