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updated: 7/18/2014 6:38 AM

Illinois title company owner sentenced for fraud

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Associated Press

EAST ST. LOUIS -- The owner of a southwestern Illinois title company was sentenced to 21 months in prison after admitting in court that she defrauded clients to support her gambling habit.

Sixty-five-year-old Karen Strasser Steinke of Millstadt was sentenced Thursday to three years of supervised release after prison. She pleaded guilty in February to charges of wire fraud and structuring financial transactions to avoid currency-reporting requirements.

Authorities say the owner of Metro East Title Co. in Belleville was obligated to hold escrow, settlement and closing funds in a trust account. But investigators say she instead pilfered those funds for gambling.

The company was accused in a federal lawsuit in October of failing to deliver to the American Legion's Columbia chapter $385,000 in proceeds from a land sale to Belleville.

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