More than five dozen Georgia judges have stepped down from the bench in disgrace since the state’s judicial watchdog agency began aggressively policing ethical conduct eight years ago.
More lately, however, the jurists aren’t just leaving the court in disgrace. Some are leaving in handcuffs.
Earlier this month, former North Georgia magistrate Bryant Cochran was sentenced to five years in prison by a federal judge who said Cochran had destroyed the public’s faith in the judiciary. In June, a one-time influential chief judge from Brunswick was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury. And a specially appointed district attorney is now considering similar charges against a former DeKalb judge.
These criminal prosecutions were brought after the state Judicial Qualifications Commission launched investigations of the judges. Instead of being allowed to step down from the bench and return to a law practice, these judges are hiring criminal defense lawyers.
“I don’t remember seeing anything like this — so many judges facing criminal prosecution,” said Norman Fletcher, former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. “I do think it puts a black cloud over the judiciary.”
Cobb County State Court Judge Glover Retired, crooked as they come.
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Becker forced off the bench, one of the most corrupt.
Georgia Supreme Court Barnes, allows and participates in the corruption.
DeKalb County Probate Court Judge Jeryl Debra Rosh, was corrupt when she was a clerk, ruling in place of Judge Marion Guess, with his knowledge, and even more corrupt as Probate Judge, retired early.
OCCUPY.COM EXPOSES GEORGIA’S COURTS DENYING THE PUBLIC ACCESS TO COURT PROCEEDINGS!
I am quite pleased that someone took notice. The Judges in Georgia are akin to little despots. No doubt, a Judge is God in their Courtroom, but they don’t have the right to Deny the public access, so that they can violate one’s Civil and Constitutional Rights while they sneakily do it.
EXPOSED: GEORGIA’S COURTS ARE BREAKING THE LAW BY DENYING PUBLIC ACCESS
TUE, 9/24/2013 – BY TANYA GLOVER
Courtrooms aren’t just a place where justice is served and legal decisions are made. They are also a place for the public to go and see how the justice system works: people enjoy viewing trials and hearings, even if they have no personal stake in them. Viewing public trials is the public’s legal right.
However, revelations by a judicial oversight commission in Georgia show that numerous judges in the state, including some in Atlanta, are violating the law by denying public access to courtrooms in cases ranging from bail hearings to standard trials.
There are some cases in which closing courtrooms to the public is legal, and the circumstances for this are carefully outlined in official Georgia State documents that make the points for legality clear. But according to a recent report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, investigations by the state’s judicial oversight commission found the practice of sealing off courtroom access widespread across Georgia — and in most cases, illegally.
Instead of typical open courts, there are now signs posted on courtroom doors stating access is denied to either the general public or specific groups of people, including kids. Bailiffs sometimes stand in place of the signs, blocking entry to the court despite people’s legal right to go in, said Robert Ingram, an attorney from Marietta, Ga., and chairman of the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission.
“We’ve had our own investigators and commissioners go out and visit a courtroom and they have been greeted by a bailiff or a deputy sheriff and been told to state their business or otherwise they don’t need to be there,” Ingram said.
But why the closed rooms and bans on view judicial proceedings in the first place? Under Georgia’s law, closing off or banning someone from the courtroom can be done at a judge’s discretion. For instance, an unruly or disruptive person, whether child or adult, can be removed. Or there may be a case not considered proper for people under the age of 18 to attend.
More often, however, judges these days claim they are keeping out the public because of lack of space in the courtroom. One instance that put this closed court behavior in the spotlight was the jury selection for Andrea Sneiderman, in which DeKalb Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams lifted the public ban stating that people who wished to be present for the selection had the right to do so.
Seemingly arbitrary court closures by judges in the Peach State are nothing new. Back in 2011, Barbra Mobley, a DeKalb County State Court Judge, resigned after investigations were launched by the Judicial Qualifications Commission alleging that her court featured bailiffs questioning people illegally about why they wanted to observe the cases on the docket.
The phenomenon is occurring statewide. In both Crisp and Ben Hill counties, the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) filed suit against the practice of closing courts to the public. In those counties, it’s been common that courts remain closed off even to the family members of both victims and the accused, other than their attendance at guilt pleas during the trials’ conclusions.
Further investigations have showed that closed courts are more common than first thought. According Gerry Weber of SCHR, this is causing a major problem with transparency. “A closed courtroom is one that is less accountable to the public. What is done behind closed doors can be different to what is done in the cold light of day,” he said.
Many judges are following the closed court lead, including Judge T. Jackson Bedford of the Fulton County Superior Court, Judge Clarence Seeliger of the DeKalb County Superior Court, and Judge Patsy Porter of Fulton State Court. Attempts by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to contact these servants of the people were unsuccessful, as were the attempts made by Occupy.com.
There are some positive signs as well, however. Judge Christopher Brasher of Fulton Superior Court says he was unaware that the practice of closing courts was occurring in his courtroom, and quickly put a stop to it. Brasher attributed the action to “overzealous deputies, who provide security and order.” He has since ordered that no one be keep out of the court, and that no signs excluding any specific group be put up without his written consent.
Judges Todd Markle and Robert McBurney, both of Fulton Superior Court, say they were not aware the public was being deterred with signs from entering their courts, and that this step was taken without their permission. However, there is debate about the judges’ knowledge of the situation. Each county sheriff’s department is responsible for court security, and Fulton County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Tracy Flanagan says they do not make or affix signs nor are signs permitted without the consent of the presiding judge.
The Judicial Qualifications Commission issued an opinion on the matter, from the commission’s director Jeff Davis who said massive amounts of complaints have come from the public about access to courtrooms. “Our efforts to educate judges about these issues have resulted in the type of response we would have anticipated,” said Davis.
“Judges are complying with the opinion and modifying practices accordingly. Since the issuance of our Opinion, we have been encouraged by the response of judges and the willingness to bring their courts into full compliance with the law.”
MOSCOW, November 4 (RIA Novosti) – America’s largest banking company JPMorgan Chase said the US Department of Justice was probing its foreign exchange operations, with legal procedures expected to cost it up to $5.9 billion, Reuters said on Tuesday.
The agency cited JPMorgan as saying in its regulatory filing that US criminal investigators were looking into its spot foreign-exchange trading business and associated controls.
It added the bank has been in talks with the Justice Department but noted there was “no assurance” that these negotiations would eventually lead to a settlement.
JPMorgan Chase is a multinational banking and financial services holding company with assets estimated at a total of $2.5 trillion.
Throughout its 14-year-long history, the company has stood accused of mortgage overcharging, alleged manipulations of the energy market, sanctions violations and obstruction of justice by its employees.
Caroll Quigley (1910-1977) taught at Princeton, Harvard and Georgetown Universities. In his book,Tragedy and Hope, (1966) he confirmed that private merchant bankers create money out of nothing and control world affairs to their advantage.
“There does exist, and has existed for a
generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some
extent, in the way the … Right believes the Communists act. In fact,
this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no
aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other groups, and
frequently does so. I know of the operations of this
network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for
two years, in the early 1960′s, to examine its papers and secret
records.” Tragedy and Hope p. 960
In effect, this creation of paper claims greater than the reserves available means that bankers were creating money out of nothing. The same thing could be done in another way, not by note-issuing banks but by deposit banks. Deposit bankers discovered that orders and checks drawn against deposits by depositors and given to third persons were often not cashed by the latter but were deposited to their own accounts. Thus there were no actual movements of funds, and payments were made simply by bookkeeping transactions on the accounts.
Accordingly, it was necessary for the banker to keep on hand in actual money (gold, certificates, and notes) no more than the fraction of deposits likely to be drawn upon and cashed; the rest could be used for loans, and if these loans were made by creating a deposit for the borrower, who in turn would draw checks upon it rather than withdraw it in money, such “created deposits” or loans could also be covered adequately by retaining reserves to only a fraction of their value. Such created deposits also were a creation of money out of nothing, although bankers usually refused to express their actions, either note issuing or deposit lending, in these terms. William Paterson, however, on obtaining the charter of the Bank of England in 1694, to use the moneys he had won in privateering, said, “The Bank hath benefit of interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing.” This was repeated by Sir Edward Holden, founder of the Midland Bank, on December 18, 1907, and is, of course, generally admitted today.
Pg. 51: The merchant bankers of London had already at hand in 1810-1850 the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England, and the London money market when the needs of advancing industrialism called all of these into the industrial world which they had hitherto ignored. In time they brought into their financial network the provincial banking centers, organized as commercial banks and savings banks, as well as insurance companies, to form all of these into a single financial system on an international scale which manipulated the quantity and flow of money so that they were able to influence, if not control, governments on one side and industries on the other.
The men who did this, looking backward toward the period of dynastic monarchy in which they had their own roots, aspired to establish dynasties of international bankers and were at least as successful at this as were many of the dynastic political rulers. The greatest of these dynasties, of course, were the descendants of Meyer Amschel Rothschild (1743-1812) of Frankfort, whose male descendants, for at least two generations, generally married first cousins or even nieces. Rothschild’s five sons, established at branches in Vienna, London, Naples, and Paris, as well as Frankfort, cooperated together in ways which other international banking dynasties copied but rarely excelled.
Pg. 52: The names of some of these banking families are familiar to all of us and should be more so. They include Raring, Lazard, Erlanger, Warburg, Schroder, Seligman, the Speyers, Mirabaud, Mallet, Fould, and above all Rothschild and Morgan. …
Pg. 324: The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.
The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank, in the hands of men like Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, Benjamin Strong of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Charles Rist of the Bank of France, and Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbank, sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.
Pg. 326-327: It must not be felt that these heads of the world’s chief central banks were themselves substantive powers in world finance. They were not. Rather, they were the technicians and agents of the dominant investment bankers of their own countries, who had raised them up and were perfectly capable of throwing them down. The substantive financial powers of the world were in the hands of these investment bankers (also called “international” or “merchant” bankers) who remained largely behind the scenes in their own unincorporated private banks. These formed a system of international cooperation and national dominance which was more private, more powerful, and more secret than that of their agents in the central banks.
We said it here first (July 2014) that the Ebola Virus would strike the USA and Europe, reports of at least 18 potential cases in Dallas,TX after healthcare workers (Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas) forget to correctly diagnose man who traveled from Liberia and is now infected with Ebola Virus, and has been in contact with others including school children.
July 30, 2014 another impressive crop circle appeared in Devizes, Roundway Hill, Wiltshire UK. This circle reminds us of the Ebola Virus strains which seems to be spreading from its border in three West African countries: Liberia,Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The Ebola virus may have been contracted in the US, and Europe is also very concerned.
The crop circle has signatures of not being man-made but there have been reports that Ebola Virus could be.
AIDS and Ebola Viruses Were “Man-Made:”Expert Shocks National Radio Audience
San Francisco – AIDS and Ebola viruses did not originate from monkeys left alone in the wild – they were bio engineered in American laboratories. So says an internationally known public health authority with Harvard credentials, Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz, based on a review of more than 2,500 government documents and scientific reports, some gained through the Freedom of Information Act and never before revealed to the general public. “The Gary Null” show, originating in New York on WBAI radio, syndicated in 20 cities and heard by more than a million people, will air this information, and more, during a one hour interview with Dr. Horowitz beginning on Tuesday, April 23, from 12:00 to 1:00 PM e.s.t., and later in the week throughout the country. Listeners will learn that HIV-1, and its parent, HIV-2, have been traced to National Cancer Institute (NCI) and military funded cancer virus experiments which used infected African green monkeys to produce vaccines intended to prevent hepatitis, leukemia, and other cancers.
The documented evidence revealed in Dr. Horowitz’s new book, Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola – Nature, Accident or Genocide? (Tetrahedron Publishing Group, 1996), shows that NCI researchers, during the 1960’s, mixed viral genes from different animals to produce leukemia, sarcoma, general wasting, and death. This provided the “cancer models” used to study human cancer and begin human vaccine trials. The book, described as the first in-depth exploration into the origins of AIDS and Ebola, and its controversial conclusions, have offended many top AIDS researchers, and been hailed by numerous others who have long questioned the green monkey theory, or feared disease outbreaks from viral vaccine experiments.
Reconciling the origin of AIDS and Ebola, as Dr. Horowitz has now done, is important for several reasons: First, many feel that victims of AIDS should not be blamed for starting the epidemic. With this evidence, those living with HIV/AIDS may now be freed from the stigma, shame, and guilt associated with the infection – a boost to their natural immunity. Second, new therapies might be developed from a better understanding of HIV’s origin. third, the events precipitating such epidemics should never be allowed to happen again. It is ethically important to understand, and therefore prevent, future outbreaks. Finally, those directly implicated in HIV’s development and transmission are the same individuals and institutions capitalizing on the epidemic and humanity’s suffering. Though many might consider this preposterous, as one Emerging Viruses review recently cautioned, “withhold any out-of-hand dismissal until you read this book,” or tune into Dr. Null’s extraordinary program.
Former Gwinnett County Lawyer Indicted for Stealing Client Funds
U.S. Attorney’s OfficeSeptember 12, 2014
Northern District of Georgia(404) 581-6000
ATLANTA—Former attorney Michael Rene Berlon has been arraigned on federal charges of mail and wire fraud.
“This defendant is charged with defrauding his own clients out of over $1.8 million,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “They came to him for legal help, and instead he drained their bank accounts.”
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “Individuals relying on the professionalism and trust of individuals like Mr. Berlon should be able to turn to someone when that trust is violated. The FBI, in being well positioned to investigate such allegations involving the diversion of funds through mail and wire fraud, is that someone.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Berlon, who practiced in Grayson, Ga., through his law firm, the Law Office of Michael R. Berlon, is charged with obtaining funds from clients of his law firm and other individuals through false pretenses. The indictment alleges that some clients provided money to him believing that he would create a trust for them, and would hold the funds in trust. Instead, Berlon used the funds for personal expenses, including to pay his American Express bill and to repay other clients.
The indictment also alleges that in one instance, Berlon obtained money from two individuals who were looking for his assistance with starting a new business. He told the victims that he would help them get a loan, but they were required to provide a percentage of the requested loan amount as a down payment. Instead of assisting them with obtaining a loan, Berlon used the funds for his personal expenses and debts. In total, it is alleged that Berlon received at least $1.8 million in client funds from 2008-2013.
Berlon, 55, of Grayson, Ga., was arraigned before Linda T. Walker, United States Magistrate Judge. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 9, 2014.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Jamie L. Mickelson is prosecuting the case.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
Corroborating what I have been saying for years on this blog, the Supreme Court of the state of California is reasserting its position that if entity ABC wants to collect on a debt in California, then that particular entity must own the debt. This is basic common sense and simply follows article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. If a court were to adopt the position of the banks, then a new industry would be born, to wit: spying on people to determine whether or not they are behind on any payment to anyone and then beating the real creditor to court, filing a complaint and getting a judgment without the real creditor even knowing about it. The Supreme Court of the state of California obviously understands this.
This is not really complicated although the words used are complicated. If you find out that your neighbor is behind in payments on their credit cards, it is obvious that you can serve your neighbor and collect. You don’t own the debt because you never loaned any money and because you never purchased the debt. If you are allowed to sue and collect on the credit card debt, you and the court would be committing a fraud on the actual creditor. This is why it is absurd for lawyers or judges to say “what difference does it make who they are the debt to? They stopped making payments and they are clearly in default.” Any lawyer or judge makes that statement is wrong. It lacks the foundation of the factual determinations required to establish the existence of the debt, the current balance of the debt after deductions for all payments received from all parties on this account, and the ownership of the debt.
In the first year of law school, we learned that the note is not the debt. The note is evidence of the debt and the terms of repayment but it is not a substitute for the actual transaction documents. Those transaction documents would have to include proof of transfer of consideration, which in this case would mean wire transfer receipts and wire transfer instructions. The banks don’t want to show the court this because it will show that the originator in most cases never made any loan at all and was merely serving as a sham nominee for an undisclosed lender. The banks are attempting to use this confusion to make themselves real parties in interest when in fact they were never more than intermediaries. And as intermediaries that misused their positions of trust to misrepresent and create fraudulent “mortgage bond” transactions with investors that led to fraudulent loans being made to borrowers.
The banks diverted or stole money from investors on several different levels through multiple channels of conduit sham entities that they called “bankruptcy remote vehicles.” The argument of “too big to fail” is now being rejected by the courts. That is a policy argument for the legislative branch of government. While the bank succeeded in scaring the executive and legislative branches into believing the risk of “too big to fail” most of the people in the legislative and executive branches of government on the federal and state level no longer subscribe to this myth.
There are dozens of other courts on the trial and appellate level across the country that are also grasping this issue. The position of the banks, which is been rejected by Congress and the state legislatures for good reason, would mean the end of negotiable paper. The banks are desperate because they know they are not the owner of the debt, they are not the creditor, they have no authority to represent the creditor, and their actions are contrary to the interests of the creditor. They are pushing millions of homeowners into foreclosure, or luring them into an apparent default and foreclosure with false promises of modification and settlement.
The reason is simple. Without a foreclosure sale at auction, the banks are exposed to an enormous liability for all the money they collected on the alleged defaulted loans. The amount of the liability is vastly in excess of the entire principal of the loans, which is why I say that the major banks are publishing financial statements that are based on fictitious assets and fictitious income. Nobody can ignore the fact that the broker-dealers (investment banks) are getting sued by investors, insurers, counterparties on credit default swaps, government agencies who have already paid for alleged “losses”, and government agencies that have paid on guarantees for mortgages that did not conform to the required industry-standard underwriting practice.
This latest decision in which the Glaski court, at the request of the banks, revisited its prior decision and then reaffirmed it as a law of the land in the state of California, is evidence that the banks are turning the corner in favor of the real creditors and the real debtors. The recusal by two judges on the California Supreme Court is interesting but at this point there are no conclusions that can be drawn from that.
This opens the door in the state of California for people to regain title to their property or damages for the loss of title. It also serves to open the door to discovery of the actual money trail in order to trace real transactions as opposed to fictitious ones based upon fabricated documentation which often contain forgery, backdating, and are signed by people without authority or people claiming authority through a fictitious power of attorney.
Fukushima forecast used by gov’t shows nuclear waste crossing ocean in single massive cluster — “Maximum concentration propagates eastward in Pacific toward U.S.” — Highest levels worldwide remain along coast of N. America through 2026 (VIDEO)
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (Norway), 2013 (emphasis added): The massive nuclear leakage into ocean from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was observed on March 25th,2011. The transport of leaked radioactive pollutant from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was simulated… assuming constant and continuous leakage for 20 days (scenario 1) and for one year(scenario 2) starting from March 25th, 2011 and was integrated for 20 years… There is no remarkable difference of transport pathways… for the nuclear waste… The results of the ensembles indicate that the nuclear pollutant for both scenarios transports eastward to eastern Pacific… It takes about 10 to 15 years to reach the coast of East Asia… a realistic sourcefunction is required and atmospheric fallout and role of ocean ecology should also be taken into account, in order to get a more reliable assessment of possible impact of the radioactive leakage on the ocean environment.
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Prof. Ola Johannessen, University of Bergen Geophysical Institute: Ocean spreading of radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan […] The results show that the maximum concentration propagates eastward in the Pacific toward the United States during a 7-year period while the total concentration drops to 1-2% of the source concentration (100%) after 5 years.
Nansen-Zhu International Research Centre, China: Extraordinary earthquake hit Japan and led the nuclear leakage of Japanese Fukushima reactor to the ocean. Dr. Yongqi Gao with colleagues at NERSC and NZC used the numerical model to simulate the propagation of radioactive elements in the ocean. Model system has been used for EU RADARC (Simulation scenarios for potential radioactive spreading in the 21st century from rivers and external sources in the Russian Arctic coastal zone, 2001-2003) and Norwegian Research Council supported project ARC (Arctic Radioactive Contamination, 2004-2006)… results were also cited by the State Council of China.
It appears that an alleged illegal GM rice trial on University students in China has led to an incidence rate of acute leukemia of up to 3 times the normal rate in the country. Following the alleged GM rice trial, it was discovered from the Huazhong Agricultural University that ‘over 10 students now have leukemia within a 4-year period.’
The students claim that:
“When we entered the University, the school required all students to promote genetic modification (GM), upon entering the University, our teacher told us that the rice used by our canteen is GM rice from the university’s experimental base.”
Normally, leukemia among young adults in China is about 2 to 3 cases per 100,000 people. In the case of the students claiming to be fed GMO rice at the University’s base, the rate is at least three times higher. Seven students are on record now as having developed the disease.
These accusations are corroborated by a study conducted by Brazilian researchers, one which showed that Bt toxins found in GM rice are toxic to the blood of mice and cause red blood cells to rupture.
“Hematotoxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis as spore-crystal strains Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, or Cry2Aa in Swiss albino mice” suggests there could be a link between Bt toxins and leukemia.
Chen I-wan, an Advisor to the Committee of Disaster History to the China Disaster Prevention Association, suggested Thursday that:
“The Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) should jointly organize a working team to enter the Huazhong Agricultural University and investigate if Zhang Qi-fa, the chief developer of Chinese GM Bt rice, influenced the University to feed GM Bt rice to the students on a regular basis, and if the fact that the leukemia incidence rate of the students at the Huazhong Agricultural University is about three times the normal incidence rate. And, if this is basically verified, then they should sue those responsible with public prosecution based on “endangering public security by dangerous means!””
The University Students’ accusations come on the heels of a CCTV report last month, which revealed that unapproved GMO Rice was discovered in two southern China provinces.
Residential real estate firm Morris Hardwick Schneider alleges that founder Nathan Hardwick IV embezzled more than $30 million from the firm and its affiliated title company, LandCastle Title.
In a suit filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court, the firm claims Hardwick used the money to pay for casino expenses, private jet rides, a luxury Buckhead condo and real estate investments.
The two firms allege in the complaint that Hardwick raided the trust and escrow accounts that the firms maintain for residential mortgage closings and then created false bank statements and altered accounting records to hide the deficits.
Hardwick was listed as MHS’s managing partner and as the board chairman and CEO for LandCastle Title in a biography that has been deleted from MHS’s website.
A nanny who answered the phone at Hardwick’s residence at the St. Regis in Buckhead said he was not at home.
LandCastle’s lawyer, W. Reese Willis III of Fidelity National Law Group, declined to comment on active litigation. “The complaint speaks for itself,” he said.
Art Morris, another founding partner of MHS, did not respond to requests for comment, nor did MHS’s lawyer, Jeffrey Schneider of Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco.
Fidelity National Title Group bought a 70 percent interest in LandCastle Title, one of its agents, after the escrow account losses were discovered, according to a letter Fidelity National posted Monday to MHS and LandCastles’ joint website.
A “significant shortage” in the accounts of MHS and LandCastle prompted the acquisition and Fidelity National is funding the shortages in return for the ownership interest in LandCastle, according to the letter. Fidelity National Title Group is owned by Fidelity National Financial.
Hardwick has resigned from MHS and Mark Wittstadt is now the managing partner, according to the letter, which was signed by Wittstadt and David Baum, the Southeast regional manager for Fidelity National Title Group who is now the president of LandCastle Title.
According to the suit, Hardwick spent $4 million from MHS’s trust accounts in wire transfers to casinos, $1 million to pay private jet companies, and $645,000 to cover losses from failed property investments.
He diverted $6.3 million from MHS’s trust accounts to a personal holding company called Divot, according to the suit, which names Divot as a co-defendant. According to Hardwick’s firm bio, he is an “avid golfer.”
Hardwick partially financed the February 2013 purchase of a $3 million unit at the St. Regis in Buckhead with funds from MHS and LandCastle, according to the suit, and siphoned off another $390,000 in regular payments to himself from MHS’s trust accounts, after draining the operating accounts.
The suit alleges that Hardwick has been embezzling money for at least 18 months, saying the $390,000 in personal payouts from the MHS trust accounts occurred between January 2012 and July 2014.
‘The far-reaching impact on lenders, realtors, law firms and consumers would have been a catastrophe had our parent company, Fidelity National Financial Inc. not stepped in with the capital and resources available to us and a plan to allow them to move forward,” said Fidelity National Title’s state manager Jim Petropoulos in an email to members of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia.
MHS and LandCastle Title are headquartered in Atlanta. They have more than 50 offices in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Ohio.
Nathan Hardwick IV denied Wednesday that he embezzled $30 million from his residential real estate law firm, Morris Hardwick Schneider, and its affiliated title company, Landcastle Title.
In a suit filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court, MHS and Landcastle Title claim Hardwick used the money to pay for casino expenses, private jet rides, a luxury Buckhead condo and failed real estate investments.
The firms allege in the complaint that Hardwick raided the trust and escrow accounts that they maintain for residential mortgage closings and then created false bank statements and altered accounting records to hide the deficits.
Hardwick was MHS’s managing partner and the board chairman and CEO for Landcastle Title, according to a biography that has been deleted from MHS’s website.
Hardwick denied the fraud allegations in a statement supplied by his lawyer, Ed Garland.
“Nat is not guilty of any improper, illegal or unethical conduct,” the statement said. “Nat became aware of a problem with the accounting earlier this summer and immediately alerted his partners and initiated a review by outside auditors.”
“The law firm was profitable and Nat believed that all of the money he received was properly distributed to him as his share of the profits of the firm,” the statement said.
Hardwick has resigned from the firm, according to a letter from Fidelity National Title Group that was posted Monday to MHS and Landcastle’s joint website.
Fidelity National Title Group bought a 70 percent interest in Landcastle Title, one of its agents, after the escrow account losses were discovered, the letter said. A “significant shortage” in the accounts of MHS and Landcastle prompted the acquisition and Fidelity National is funding the shortages in return for the ownership interest in Landcastle, it said. Fidelity National Title Group is owned by Fidelity National Financial.
Mark Wittstadt is now MHS’s managing partner, according to the letter, which was signed by Wittstadt and David Baum, the Southeast regional manager for Fidelity National Title Group, who is now the president of Landcastle Title.
“To allow Landcastle to fail would have been a calamity for the company’s employees, consumers, and the real estate industry, as a whole. We are grateful that FNTG made the decision to put the financial resources of the company behind Landcastle Title. Together, we are working to restore confidence in our industry,” said Wittstadt in a statement.
According to the suit, Hardwick spent $4 million from MHS’s trust accounts in wire transfers to casinos, $1 million to pay private jet companies and $645,000 to cover losses from failed property investments.
He diverted $6.3 million from MHS’s trust accounts to a personal holding company called Divot, according to the suit, which names Divot as a codefendant. According to Hardwick’s firm bio, he is an “avid golfer.”
Hardwick partially financed the February 2013 purchase of a $3 million condo at the St. Regis Residences in Buckhead with funds from MHS and Landcastle, according to the suit, and siphoned off another $390,000 in regular payments to himself from MHS’s trust accounts, after draining the operating accounts.
Landcastle’s lawyer is W. Reese Willis III of Fidelity National Law Group. MHS’s lawyer is Jeffrey Schneider of Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco.
The suit alleges that Hardwick has been embezzling money for at least 18 months, saying the $390,000 in personal payouts from the MHS trust accounts occurred between January 2012 and July 2014.
“The far-reaching impact on lenders, realtors, law firms and consumers would have been a catastrophe had our parent company, Fidelity National Financial Inc. not stepped in with the capital and resources available to us and a plan to allow them to move forward,” said Jim Petropoulos, Fidelity National Title’s state manager, in an email to members of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia.
MHS and Landcastle Title are headquartered in Atlanta. In Georgia, 57 lawyers work for MHS, according to the State Bar of Georgia’s directory.
It has 52 offices in 13 states, including Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Ohio.
Hardwick, 48, started his own real estate closing firm, Jackson & Hardwick, in 1994. With visions of expanding into a regional or even national firm, he merged his firm in 2005 with the older and more established Atlanta closing firm Morris & Schneider.
Hardwick told the Daily Report at the time that he wanted MHS to be the nation’s biggest real estate firm within a decade. As comanaging partner with Randolph Schneider, he was responsible for marketing and business development.
MHS added foreclosure services in 2008 through a merger with Baltimore-based Wittstadt & Wittstadt. That firm was founded by Mark Wittstadt, now MHS’s managing partner, and his father, Gerard Wittstadt Sr.
Hardwick told the Daily Report in 2008 that MHS’s goal was to become a national one-stop shop for residential real estate. “We can take [property] from closing to refinancing to foreclosure to REO and back to retail again,” he said.
Mary Anne Walser, a real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty, expressed shock at the fraud allegations against Hardwick. “It’s the talk of every real estate and mortgage office in town,” Walser said. “No one had any inkling that there would ever be a problem.”
She said MHS is one of the major closing firms in the city, with a reputation as a “competent firm that does a good job.”
“All of us had at least one if not multiple closings there,” she said.
Walser spoke highly of Hardwick. “He is a smart guy and he built a great, wonderful firm. I hope there is some other side to the story,” she said.
Even though Fidelity National Title stepped in and covered the shortfall to the escrow accounts, real estate agents and mortgage lenders don’t know whether it is safe to use the firm, Walser said, adding that some mortgage companies have announced they’ve stopped using MHS for closings.
One mortgage lender, Ari Berman, said his company, Silverton Mortgage Specialists, has pulled all its real estate closings from MHS.
“The last thing we want to do is get involved in any kind of fraud or anything that smacks of fraud,” said Berman, who manages Silverton’s Dunwoody office. Silverton has nine Georgia offices and one in South Carolina.
Silverton can’t take the risk of entrusting mortgage money to MHS to hold in escrow during a real estate closing for fear that it could disappear, Berman said. “What if we end up losing those funds?”
“Even though it’s just an allegation, we can’t be associated with it,” he said. “That is a sacrosanct account. It’s other people’s money.”
Even though Hardwick has resigned from MHS and Fidelity National Title has covered the escrow shortfalls, Berman said there is no guarantee that he was the sole actor. “There is too much that is unknown. I’m not willing to take that risk,” he said.
“Fraud is a real hot-button issue in this industry. People lose their life savings because of it,” he said.