DADE CITY, Florida – About two months after battling a potential term of disbarment of at least five years, in connection with a supposed loan of approximately $230,000 he received from an elderly client, Pasco County attorney Constantine "Chuck" Kalogianis has been charged with nine felony counts for allegedly doctoring foreclosure documents.
Kalogianis, 53, was arrested at the end of September and faces eight charges related to forgery and one count alleging a scheme to defraud. He was released on $180,000 bail.
State Attorney Bernie McCabe, who represents Pinellas and Pasco counties, announced he began an investigation after a lender accused Kalogianis of altering foreclosure case records to benefit homeowners he represented.
McCabe said in a statement that Kalogianis had engaged in a "systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud" several lenders between November 2013 and March 16 of this year.
An investigator with McCabe's office told reporters there is probable cause to assume Kalogianis forged or altered mortgage documents for eight properties in Pasco County and, as a result, successfully convinced the Sixth Judicial Court in each of those cases that the lender had no standing for summary judgment.
McCabe's office explained Kalogianis received more than $100,000 in fees as the prevailing attorney for the cases in questions – which he wouldn't have received if the court hand not decided in favor of his clients.
Surveillance videos purportedly recorded in a Pasco County clerk's office last year appear to show Kalogianis applying stamps on documents for at least two different cases.
Kalogianis' lawyer, Victor Martinez, said an arraignment on the charges is set for early December, at which point his client is expected to enter a not-guilty plea. Martinez will also file a 14-day discovery request for McCabe's office to hand over any evidence pertaining to the case, of course including the video recording from the clerk's office, as well as police reports and detective investigations, along with a list of witnesses, whose depositions would be taken before the beginning of a trial.
Martinez said Kalogianis has maintained he did nothing wrong when handling the mortgage papers.
"His contention is that he is simply working on the file. You cannot tell, by the videos, as to what exactly is going on there," Martinez said. "What we're hoping for is to get some information and insight about who maintains the files, who has access to the files, who would be in a position to manipulate the file other than Mr. Kalogianis."
Martinez noted that when a property owner in general wins a foreclosure case, "there's an economic motive for several people in the equation," aside from the lawyer representing the owner, which was Kalogianis' role in the cases being scrutinized. "I suppose that there's a motive for anybody that is going to be economically-advantaged to alter the file."
He further suggested that were an attorney to oppose and beat lenders in court, as his client has done, in order to "push him out of the way ... it is not beyond the realm of comprehension that (lenders) could manipulate the file and then pretend to discover it and then pretend to allege that 'somebody' has acted improperly."
So the question shifts to what people besides Kalogianis had access to the mortgage files, Martinez said. "Is there a video of that and can we see who they are and what kind of safeguards are made?"
The lending companies affected by the alleged fraud include Bank of America, Bayview Loan Servicing, BAC Home Loans Servicing, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Bank, Nationstar Mortgage, and American Home Mortgage Assets.