Saturday, April 21, 2018
Business

Judge raps Pasco foreclosure lawyer and one of his clients

In an unusually sharply worded ruling, a judge has blasted both a Pasco County lawyer and the homeowner he represented in a foreclosure case.

Circuit Judge Kimberly Sharpe Byrd said last week that she found "clear and convincing evidence'' that attorney Constantine Kalogianis intentionally and fraudulently altered mortgage records in attempt to block foreclosure of his client's house.

And while acknowledging there was no direct evidence homeowner Nicholas Verrengia took part in the fraud, he "at the very least condoned (Kalogianis') actions after the fact,'' the judge said.

Previous coverage: Pasco attorney Constantine Kalogianis facing nine felony counts connected to foreclosure fraud

Byrd's ruling paves the way for Bayview Loan Servicing to foreclose on Verrengia's New Port Richey home after a trial to determine how much he still owes on his mortgage.

A former congressional candidate, Kalogianis has been in hot water since Bayview alleged last year that he was altering foreclosure case records to benefit homeowners he represented. Surveillance videos taken in a Pasco clerk's office appear to show him stamping something on papers in two different cases.

Last fall, Kalogianis was arrested on nine felony counts for what Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe called a "systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud" multiple lenders between November 2013 and March 2016. Kalogianis has pleaded not guilty.

At a hearing in January on Bayview's motion for sanctions against Kalogianis, the lawyer invoked his constitutional right to remain silent and then left the hearing, the judge noted in her ruling. When Verrengia — who is a neighbor of Kalogianis — was called to testify, he was "evasive and even combative at one point,'' the judge said.

"Mr. Verrangia's demeanor was not consistent with that of a faultless client who did not condone Mr, Kalogianis' actions,'' the judge said.

In her ruling the judge also rapped some of attorney Lee Segal's statements in defense of Kalogianis during the sanctions hearing. Segal said he didn't see anything in the videos except for Kalogianis paper-clipping some pages and handing them to a clerk to be copied.

"Contrary to this argument,'' the judge said, "the Court watched the same videos and clearly saw Mr. Kalogianis pull out a stamp and stamp documents in four videos. (Bayview's lawyer) remarked… 'that to argue that Mr, Kalogianis was acting properly, as Mr. Segal has argued, is really almost beyond my imagination.' This Court agrees.''

In an unrelated matter, another judge has recommended that Kalogianis be disbarred for five years for not paying back a $227,644 investment that a 73-year-old client made to him in 2007.

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

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