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Gambling habit could send title company owner to prison for 25 years

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - The owner of a southwestern Illinois title company faces up to a quarter century in prison after admitting in court that she defrauded clients to support her gambling habit.
Sixty-five-year-old Karen Strasser Steinke of Millstadt pleaded guilty Friday in East St. Louis 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 last October of failing to deliver to the American Legion's Columbia chapter $385,000 in proceeds from a land sale to Belleville.
Steinke also faces mandatory restitution when sentenced May 2.

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