SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A disbarred Oakland County attorney was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison in a fake mortgage scheme one year after being released from jail.
Steven Ruza, 54, of Shelby Township, was sentenced Wednesday on one count of intent to pass false title and one count of falsely certifying a driver's license.
Ruza was sentenced as a second habitual offender and will spend 2.5 to 15 years behind bars.
"Today's sentencing brings to a close a long and winding road of criminal activity by Mr. Ruza," Attorney General Bill Schuette said. "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."
Ruza accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to two of four charged felonies on Sept. 13, 2017.
He was initially charged in July 2017, but the 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. He paid $250,000 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 Ruza had obtained a Michigan driver's license in December 2016 with his photo, but someone else's name. He got 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.