Priority Search Inc and President of company center of several law suits

Priority Search Inc and its President and Treasure, Elizabeth Sichler are the center of several lawsuits involving the now defunct Kingston Title Search Company. The United States Secret Service is currently investigating the title company and its principals. Bob Slama, a spokesperson for the United States Secret Service stated that Priority Search Inc. and its principals Elizabeth Sichler and Robert Marsh are being investigated for allegedly retaining money owed to property sellers in mortgage transactions.

Mr. Slama would only comment that the United States Attorney’s Office is also involved in the investigation and that several victims of the alleged crime have contacted both offices to report claims against Priority Search Inc. and principals.

The investigation into Priority Search Inc. was revealed in November of 2008 when several individual sellers of property complained publicly that Priority Search Inc. held money from buyers in purchase transactions that should have been used to pay off their individual mortgages after the sale; as well as outstanding property taxes.

Title companies in purchase transactions place monies in an escrow account to ensure that the monies are distributed to the sellers or the sellers bank that hold the sellers mortgage once the monies are received from the buyers at the time of closing.

Michael Bogdon, from Rice Township was one of those buyers that became a victim in this scheme. Mr. Bogdon purchased a property in Rice Township and held his closing with Priority Search Inc.. The money to fund the closing were given to Priority Search Inc. on August 22, 2008 and was to distributed to the sellers mortgage lending institution to pay off the sellers mortgage and property taxes. Priority Search Inc. was chosen by the listing agent in the transaction for the title services.

Mr. Bogdon was shocked when the seller of the property showed up on his door step in November to tell him that the mortgage had not been paid. The sellers in this case were retirees who now had mortgages on both the properties they sold and the property they purchased. Mr. Bogdon concerned that the property would go into foreclosure due to non- payment of the sellers mortgage which would leave him with a mortgage and no property. Mr. Bogdon used his property insurance to pay off the sellers mortgage as he had purchased the property insurance Investor Title Insurance Co. The sellers’ mortgage was paid off later that fall and they were able to finally get the property taxes paid in January of this year. Mr. Bogdon was reveal when the sellers’ mortgage was finally paid as he no longer feared that he would loss the home he purchased.

Investor Title Insurance has filed a claim against Priority Search Inc. in Luzerne County and its principals Elizabeth Sichler and Robert E. Marsh. The Judge has ordered the company and its principals to turn over all its computer records, paper documents to the insurance company.

Robert Marsh, the company’s secretary and vice president filed a claim in which he is arguing that he should not be included in the law suit. Mr. Marsh is an attorney and claims that he is the victim who lost his investment in Priority Search Inc. Mr. Marsh’s lawyers claim that Mr. Marsh is a highly respected member of the Bar Association and was not an object of the alleged criminal investigation. They claim that Mr. Marsh simply had a relationship with a corporate entity.

Priority Search Inc.’s President and treasurer, Elizabeth Sichler, from Harvey Lake stepped down as Vice Chairwoman of the country Republican Party Organization when the scandal surrounding Priority Search Inc. became public.

Jonathan Comitz, Attorney from Forty Fort who is currently representing Sichler and Priority Search Inc. in civil actions would not comment on the on-going legal actions. Marc Neff, from Philadelphia and is Sichler’s criminal defense attorney has also declined to comment.

Bill Jones, a seller and one of the victims in this alleged scheme was able to obtain the pay off of his mortgage by using the buyers title insurance, however according to his attorney John Dean, from Scranton, they are seeking to recoup legal fees and other court costs from Sichler and Priority Search Inc. Mr. Jones in order to get the mortgage paid had to seek legal action against the buyers which including seeking eviction of the buyers from the home before the buyers insurance would pay. Mr. Jones sold the home for one thousand seventy-one thousand dollars which the buyers gave to Priority Search Inc..  Attorney Dean stated that they had to take the action as Mr. Jones cannot put in a claim on a title policy he didn’t own. The buyers’ policy is owned by the buyer and not the seller, which makes schemes like this so difficult to satisfy.

Mr. Dean stated that his office is receiving several calls from lawyers and individual sellers who are looking for advice on how to reclaim their funds. He further stated that many are simply doing nothing and hoping for the best.

County records reveal that The United States Department of Revenue filed liens against Priority Search Inc. and Elizabeth Sichler in November of 2009 seeking six thousand two hundred dollars from Priority Search Inc. and two thousand one hundred dollars from Mrs. Sichler.

The United States Department of Labor and Industry’s Unemployment compensation Fund also filed liens last year. The liens total thirty thousand six hundred dollars for unpaid unemployment compensation contributions, interest and penalties

The Internal Revenue Service is seeking sixteen thousand five hundred dollars from Mrs. Sichler in a federal tax lien suit they filed last year.

Priority Search Inc. and Mrs. Sichler also have a judgment that was filed against them by Yellow Book Sales and Distribution Co. for eight thousand six hundred dollars.

Marilyn Morio filed a judgment against Mrs. Sichler last year in the amount of one thousand two hundred dollars.

The building in which Priority Search Inc. did business was sold in September by Pierce Street Associates LLC according to county records. Pierce Street Associates is owned by Robert Marsh.

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