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A South Florida real estate agent was arrested on money laundering and fraud charges after he misappropriated more than $2.8 million of his clients' escrow money, Delray Beach Police said Thursday.
Jon Rashotsky, 45, wired the money into the accounts of various women, including one he met on an online dating site, as well as his assistant and his wife, police said in a probable cause affidavit.
Rashotsky directed 83 clients to put escrow money in an account for pending real estate transactions, police said in a statement. From July 14, 2010 to Nov. 10, 2011, he authorized the disbursement of $2,845,409.83 in clients' escrow money without their knowledge or authorization, according to police.
Rashotsky, who had been employed by Mizner Grande Realty, told police that he committed the fraud in order to pay for advertising costs at his real estate job, the affidavit said.
Police said that he also used the stolen escrow money for entertainment, living expenses and cash withdrawals, and to launder funds for his personal use.
He arranged unauthorized distributions of money to be wired to the women, who would later make numerous withdrawals for him, according to the affidavit.
He began by using his wife Angela Towne, whom he gave $304,996.83 from July 2010 to April 2011, and then started depositing money to Debbie Barrow, who was working as his assistant. In a period of about seven months, Rashotsky gave Barrow a total of $776,003. In October 2011, he met Michele Sfera on www.seekingarrangements.com, told her he was a wealthy real estate agent and asked her to open an account where he could wire his money, the affidavit said.
“Sfera made large cash withdrawals from the transferred proceeds,” the affidavit said. “Rashotsky instructed Sfera to withdraw less than $10,000 to avoid the bank ‘becoming suspicious’ and told Sfera ‘it was easier to transfer large amounts of cash at one time’ when Sfera inquiered as to why he was transferring such large amounts of money to her."
Within a month, Rashotsky wired $58,760.75 to her account, the affidavit said.
All the women made numerous withdrawals at his request, but were unaware the funds were escrow money and part of a fraud, according to the affidavit.
Rashotsky, who faces two counts of money laundering and and one count of organized scheme to defraud over $50,000, was being held Thursday without bond at the Broward County Main Jail, online jail records showed.
He will be extradited to Palm Beach County, where police have investigated his alleged crimes. It wasn’t immediately known if he had an attorney.
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