Friday, November 17, 2017
Business

Judge recommends five-year disbarment for Pasco attorney Constantine Kalogianis

RECOMMENDED READING


Even before the Great Recession, New Port Richey attorney Constantine Kalogianis was in serious financial trouble.

In a letter to a bank that was suing him, Kalogianis said he had exhausted his savings and "simply could not go (on) this way any longer.'' His real estate holdings were worth less than the loan amounts. He had stopped paying on two business lines of credit.

Yet Kalogianis told none of this to a client who agreed to "invest'' nearly $230,000 with him.

In a scathing report filled with terms like "completely self-serving,'' "strategically evasive'' and "drenched in deceitful motive,'' a judge is recommending that the Florida Supreme Court disbar Kalogianis for five years for violating numerous Bar rules in his dealings with 73-year-old Jacqueline Drury.

The report comes as the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office confirmed it is investigating unrelated allegations that Kalogianis doctored official court files in several mortgage foreclosure cases.

Kalogianis, 53, has denied wrongdoing in both matters. In an email Tuesday about the Drury case, he said: "This is perhaps the first time in history that an attorney is about to be disciplined for following the rules. One cannot have any regret doing something unethical when there was nothing unethical done.''

A veteran lawyer and former congressional candidate, Kalogianis was developing a subdivision in New Port Richey in 2007 when Drury hired him to handle the sale of her late mother's home. An assistant to Kalogianis suggested that Drury "invest'' the $227,0644 proceeds of the sale with the attorney.

According to the report by Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Robert Foster, neither the assistant nor Kalogianis ever made it clear to the "financially unsophisticated'' Drury exactly what she was investing in. In fact, the judge said, the money was a personal loan to Kalogianis secured by second mortgages on his then-home and lots in the subdivision where he was building a new million-dollar house.

The lenders eventually foreclosed on the first mortgages, wiping out Drury's second mortgages. Kalogianis also stopped making monthly interest payments on his loan from Drury, nor did he pay back the $227,00 balance after the agreed-on five years.

In his report, Foster blasted the attorney for not stressing to Drury that she could seek independent legal counsel before signing their "investment agreement,'' which was scrawled on a piece of lined notebook paper and partly illegible.

When Drury told him, "You're my lawyer, I trust you'' and thus didn't need another attorney, "a five-alarm bell should have gone off in (Kalogianis') head,'' the judge wrote.

"Whether it was greed, necessity or something else, (Kalogianis) did not answer the alarm's call. He did not stop the moving train, pull Drury aside and explain that he was not her attorney for purposes of this transaction, and that he could not represent her or her interests because his own interests were involved.''

The judge, serving as referee in the Florida Bar's complaint against Kalogianis, also lambasted him for using $60,000 of Drury's money for expensive upgrades on his new house including hardwood floors and granite countertops.

"It shocks the conscience of this court that (Kalogianis) would so nonchalantly take money from a client,'' the judge wrote. "It is additionally egregious that he did so without seeking Drury's permission.''

In his email Tuesday, Kalogianis said Drury "herself testified that nothing unethical or improper was done.'' He blamed his failure to repay the loan on the recession and Drury's unwillingness to work with him "because she wanted payment in full.''

If the state Supreme Court follows Foster's recommendation, Kalogianis would be among 54 Florida attorneys disbarred in the past year. The judge recommended that Kalogianis be ordered to pay $11,180 in costs related to the Bar complaint; the Supreme Court also could also order him to make restitution to Drury, who said her dealings with Kalogianis left her unable to afford a car, dental care or visits to her daughters in New York,

Meanwhile, State Attorney Bernie McCabe said his office is investigating a lender's accusations that Kalogianis altered records in several Pasco foreclosure cases so as to benefit homeowners he represented. Surveillance videos taken in a Pasco clerk's office last year appear to show him stamping something on papers in two different cases.

Under certain circumstances, altering officials records is a felony

"We are trying to find out what he did,'' McCabe said. "We're trying to find a common thread that would support a criminal charge. The video doesn't tell you what he did, it shows him doing something.''

In his report, Foster noted that Kalogianis' own home has been in foreclosure for years but that he and his wife still live there — "presumably paying no mortgage, taxes or insurance.''

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

Comments
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial trucking industry.B...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

The tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long lived, as predicted by economists. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Fri...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Updated: 5 hours ago
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Plotting a shopping strategy for the holiday weekend? Here’s a look at holiday store opening hours for some major retailers:Thanksgiving8 a.m.: Kmart1 p.m.: JCPenney4 p.m.: GameStop5 p.m.: Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys "R" Us, Kohl’s6 p.m.: Old Navy, Target...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the ...
Published: 11/17/17
Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

LARGO — Driving down West Bay Drive, you may notice some changes to downtown Largo.A new 29-unit apartment complex on Ridge Road stands finished and ready for residents. South of the complex, land that was formerly home to a community of rundown cott...
Published: 11/17/17
New vegan prepares for Thanksgiving with meat loving family

New vegan prepares for Thanksgiving with meat loving family

This will be my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. And, I’m nervous.It’s also first time back in my hometown of Milwaukee in five years. In a three-day span, I will visit at least 15 different relatives’ houses. All of whom welcome you in with a smile, a...
Updated: 3 hours ago
In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

Despite the budget cuts, the attempts to repeal and replace, and reports of sharp rises in premiums, Floridians and other Americans are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at record rates this year.Enrollment has surged 47 p...
Updated: 6 hours ago
A Santa flight academy? Malls pull out stops to counter online shopping

A Santa flight academy? Malls pull out stops to counter online shopping

TAMPA — One of Santa’s helpers warns the grown ups to stand back. Sawyer Baker is about to be fitted for his virtual flight academy suit.The four-year-old from Safety Harbor holds his arms straight out, just like he’s told, and sees a moving, mirror ...
Updated: 6 hours ago