Schuette files charges against local man in restitution case

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced last Friday that he has filed four felony charges against Steven Barry Ruza, 54, of Shelby Township.

The charges stem from allegations that Ruza committed identity theft in an effort to hide assets that could be used for restitution to the department. Ruza owes $348,025.50 in restitution to the Department of Attorney General’s Foreclosure Rescue Scam Victim Restitution Fund from his previous conviction of conducting a criminal enterprise for running a bogus mortgage scheme.

“This individual shows a clear disregard for the law. Less than one year after admitting guilt in a scheme that scammed many, out of not only their money but their homes, he is allegedly breaking the law once again in order to avoid his legal obligations,” said Schuette.

The charges filed against him are as follows:

—One count of Perjury, a 15-year felony.
—One count of False Statement in Application for Certificate Title, a 10-year felony.
—One count of False Certification – Driver’s License, a five year felony.
—One count of Identity theft, a five-year felony.

Ruza was arraigned before Magistrate Mark Blumer in the 55th District Court in Ingham County on Thursday, July 27. Bond was set at $150,000 cash/surety. As a condition of bond, Ruza was ordered to turn over all driver’s licenses and passports in his name or any other name. His next court date is scheduled for August 3.

Ruza was previously sentenced to one year in county jail in 2015 and was released on September 12, 2016. He is currently serving five years probation for his previous conviction.

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.

In 2017, the Department received information alleging 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 allegedly obtained a Michigan Driver’s license in December 2016 with his photo but someone else’s name. He allegedly obtained the license using the birth certificate of the individual whose identity he stole.

Further investigation showed Ruza allegedly falsified information on a car title application with the state. The title claim form states Ruza allegedly purchased a used vehicle for $500 but in reality, he allegedly paid thousands of dollars in cash for the car.

At this time Ruza still owes $348,025.50 in restitution.

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 additional information on the mortgage settlement, including a Consumer Alert and a Frequently Asked Questions document available for download on the Attorney General’s website: www.michigan.gov/mortgagesettlement.

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