Schuette: Disbarred Oakland County Attorney Sentenced to up to 15 years in Prison One Year After Release From Jail in Fake Mortgage Scheme
released on October 25, 2017
found in newsletter: October 2017
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General today announced that Steven Ruza, 54, of Shelby Township was sentenced by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in the 30th Circuit Court in Ingham County to 2.5 to 15 years in prison on one count of intent to pass false title and 2.5 to 6 years on one count of falsely certifying a driver’s license. Ruza was sentenced as a second habitual offender.
“Today’s sentencing brings to a close a long and winding road of criminal activity by Mr. Ruza,” said Schuette. “I hope he has learned there are consequences for actions and that this serves as an example for others that breaking the law not once, but twice, for personal financial gains has consequences.”
Through a plea agreement, Ruza pleaded guilty to two of four charged felonies on September 13, 2017.
Ruza was initially charged in July 2017. Those charges were filed after it was discovered that he had committed identity theft to hide assets that could be used for restitution to the Michigan Department of Attorney General. Ruza owes $348,025.50 in restitution to the Department’s Foreclosure Rescue Scam Victim Restitution Fund from his previous conviction in 2015 of conducting a criminal enterprise for running a bogus mortgage scheme.
In 2015, Ruza and his business were charged with multiple felonies for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients who were facing mortgage foreclosures and seeking assistance. He pleaded guilty to Conducting a Criminal Enterprise in 2015 and was sentenced to one year in county jail, five years’ probation, and ordered to pay $610,000 in restitution. $250,000 was paid to the victims and the other $360,000 was owed to the State of Michigan. Ruza’s victims were repaid at the time of Ruza’s guilty plea through Michigan’s Foreclosure Rescue Scam Victim Restitution Fund, meaning the restitution he owes must now be paid back to the state. Ruza was disbarred as an attorney after his initial conviction.
In 2017, the Department received information that Ruza had hidden a large sum of money. The Attorney General’s Corporate Oversight Division began an investigation into the matter. The investigation found Steven Ruza had obtained a Michigan Driver’s license in December 2016 with his photo but someone else’s name. He obtained the license using the birth certificate of the individual whose identity he stole.
Further investigation showed Ruza falsified information on a car title application with the state. The title claim form states Ruza purchased a used vehicle for $500 but in reality, he paid thousands of dollars in cash for the car.
At this time, Ruza still owes $348,025.50 in restitution. He is currently imprisoned, serving a sentence of 40 months’ to twenty years’ imprisonment for violating probation related to the 2015 Conducting a Criminal Enterprise conviction.
Today’s sentence will be served concurrently with his probation violation sentence.
Foreclosure Rescue Scam Victim Restitution Fund
In August 2013 Schuette announced the launch of a $7.5 million Foreclosure Rescue Scam Victim Restitution fund as a part of the Homeowner Protection Fund monies received by the State of Michigan to resolve the National Mortgage Settlement. This program is intended to provide restitution payments for victims of foreclosure scams who would otherwise never see a penny of court-ordered restitution. To date, over $4.1 million has been paid to Michigan victims of mortgage related crimes.
For more information on the mortgage settlement, including a Consumer Alert and a Frequently Asked Questions document available for download, visit the Attorney General’s website.
Original Press Release