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Source of Title Blog

Former NALTEA Member Planning An All Expenses Paid Federal Vacation
by Robert Franco | 2008/09/04 |

Nazarra Bernardo, a former charter-member of the National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors (NALTEA), pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud in February.  Naz, which was how he introduced himself when I met him at one of the NALTEA conferences, portrayed himself as a "big shot" and a proponent of independent abstractors.  He definitely earned a reputation in the title industry - one which ran afoul of the NALTEA code of ethics.  He now faces up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.

Source of Title Blog ::

Naz owned the title company that closed loans for TSC Funding, a South Burlington-based mortgage brokerage business owned by Richard Shumway who has been indicted for wire fraud and bank fraud. 

According to the indictment, Shumway skimmed several thousand dollars from each of more than 200 loans he brokered by means of payments taken outside of closing, without the knowledge of the borrower. As part of the scheme, Shumway arranged for Gerald Mullaney, formerly a licensed real estate appraiser in the Albany, New York area, to prepare falsified appraisals for the homes the borrowers were purchasing. This enabled Shumway to induce the borrower to take out a larger loan than necessary to buy the home, and also enabled Shumway to divert some of the proceeds of each loan to his own benefit. Shumway misled borrowers into believing the extra fees were to be paid to the lending institution to obtain a lower interest rate.

Of course it is difficult to perpetrate this type of fraud without willing accomplices.  In this case, Shumway had the help of the appraiser, Mullaney, and the title agent, Naz.  Mullaney and Naz have both pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Bernardo admitted that he had conspired with Shumway to help divert some of the proceeds of each mortgage loan to Shumway without the borrower's knowledge. Bernardo caused funds to be paid over to Shumway other than as stated in the documentation required by federal law to be given to the borrower at the loan closing.

When Naz joined NALTEA he indicated that he was the owner of Resource Confidential, Inc., in Syracuse, New York.  His biography on a professional networking site, Spoke.com, indicates that his the Chief Operating Officer of Maximus Title.  However, it also indicates he is the Senior Sales Manager and that Julia Kirby is the COO.  He also boasts of his experience with other title companies.

Nazzara J. Bernardo, Senior Sales Manager Naz has over fifteen-years working experience in the title industry as a former President/Owner of two multi-million dollar nation companies which serviced the title industry. His extensive knowledge and understanding of customer concerns and their needs adds another dimension in providing Maximus Title's existing and new customers the right solutions in assisting in them in achieving their goals. Naz main focus in joining Maximus Title is to assist Julia Kirby, Chief Operating Officer, in increasing the company's customer base and expanding their footprint.

I am also a charter-member of NALTEA.  In fact, I served on the board when Naz was a member.  Though I do recall briefly meeting him one of the conferences, I do not remember him being a particularly active member.  He "officially" served on the membership committee until his membership expired in September 2007.

Had he not let his NALTEA membership lapse, he would have certainly been expelled from the association for violating NALTEA's Code of Ethics.

Every member shall obtain and justifiably hold a reputation for honesty and integrity, always standing sponsor for his/her work, intellectually and financially.
. . .
Members shall not engage in any unfair or deceptive practices and shall conduct their business so as to promote the public interest and continuing integrity and stability of the Title Profession and shall comply with all local, state and federal laws and regulations applicable to conducting their business.

Developing the Code of Ethics was one of NALTEA's top priorities in the early days of the association.  Everyone actively involved in NALTEA believed very strongly in promoting the most ethical behavior among its members.  To my knowledge, NALTEA has never had to discipline any of its active members for ethical violations.  However, should the need arise, it has a clearly defined Code and an Ethics Committee which has adopted procedures for handling complaints.

There have been several crooks in our industry sent to prison lately for mortgage fraud.  And, in my opinion, they deserve every minute they spend locked up.  Naz is the first one I have personally met who will be getting an all-expenses-paid federal vacation, but it doesn't change my perception at all.  These people are ruining our reputation.  We provide an invaluable service to homeowners and the lending community.  The public trust is a crucial element in what we do.  We handle huge sums of money for the parties involved in real estate transactions and those who violate that trust must be dealt with harshly.

Bon voyage, Naz.  Don't forget to write.

Robert A. Franco
SOURCE OF TITLE




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Categories: Crime, Ethics, Land Title Associations

1229 words | 5241 views | 5 comments | log in or register to post a comment


It is Easy to Hide behind a Professional Designation

Just goes to show that being an NAR Realtor(R), ALTA member or NALTEA member is no guaranty of authenticity as to quality or ethics.

 
by Jeanine Johnson | 2008/09/04 | log in or register to post a reply

That's Why It's So Important...

for organizations such as NALTEA, et al. to have ethics codes in place in order to police their own ranks.

 
by Scott Perry | 2008/09/04 | log in or register to post a reply

Yes....

No professional organization can prevent their members from participating in this kind of unethical behavior.  However, it is important to have a mechanism in place to deal with the issue if it arises.  I am glad that NALTEA has a good Code of Ethics.  Even though it really hasn't been needed yet, it is good to know that NALTEA can take action if an active member ever violates it.

 

 
by Robert Franco | 2008/09/05 | log in or register to post a reply

You Are Correct

You are correct Robert.  No organization can prevent their members from unethical or criminal behavior.  Having a good Code of Ethics does give notice that as an organization we hold our members to a higher standard.  We all know people in this industry who are just out their to see how much money they can put in their pockets, regardless of how it gets there.  NALTEA and other organizations might  not be able to stop this behavior, but  with a good code of Ethics in place we have the tools to deal with them in our organization. 

 
by Wanda Steudel | 2008/09/05 | log in or register to post a reply

Naz also was co-owner of Consumer Marketing Services....

I first met the infamous Naz 12 years ago in Syracuse when applying for  and later getting, a job with CMS...At that time I thought he was arrogant and egotistical ...I worked for them from October, 1996 'till February, 1997, when he called me to tell me that I was fired because they couldn't afford to pay me benefits....and that he had to run....he was leaving that afternoon for a Florida vacation........I hope he makes all kinds of new friends in prison....Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.............

 

Rita M. Killary, New York

 

 
by Rita Killary | 2008/09/15 | log in or register to post a reply
Source of Title Blog

Robert A. FrancoThe focus of this blog will be on sharing my thoughts and concerns related to the small title agents and abstractors. The industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years and I believe that we are just seeing the beginning. As the evolution continues, what will become of the many small independent title professionals who have long been the cornerstone of the industry?

Robert A. Franco
SOURCE OF TITLE

 

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