Friday, January 2, 2015

The Case of a Texas Notary and the Real Estate Cat Burglar

We are interested in this story from the Dallas Morning News entitled "Did Fonteno abuses constitute fraud?" because of the notary's involvement, but at the center of this tale is Douglas T. "Chase" Fonteno, a fellow who fancies himself to be a  "real estate cat burglar."   The picture and caption below are directly from the article.

"The house at 6702 Grady Niblo Road, in far southwestern Dallas, was the focal point of a court struggle between Douglas T. “Chase” Fonteno’s organization and a couple seeking to recoup losses from an adverse possession house that Fonteno had sold them."
When you read the story, you will find that Fonteno is accused of recording flurries of real estate documents--make that notarized real estate documents--to steal properties.  He has been sentenced to prison for felony securities fraud in another case.  I am not clear if he's locked up or still out.  
About the involved notary:
The article in the Dallas Morning News says that the notary on the document is [Name has been redacted***see note below], who works at the Inwood Road offices of Topletz Investments.  Fonteno has used those offices and her notary services frequently.
Texas notary laws require notaries to keep journals describing notarial acts performed on all documents they notarize, including notations of how they identified the individuals signing the documents.  The notary has refused the request of the Dallas Morning News to have a look at her journals, she said she doesn’t keep such logs because her services are almost exclusively for personnel working in her office. The article states, 
"[Name has been redacted]said that if someone from outside the office asked for notary services, she would require a photo ID. Shown the document, [Name has been redacted] said she doesn't recall notarizing Mark Watson’s signature.
'I have looked at this document in detail and have absolutely no knowledge of signing this document,' she said. 'This is just not correct.'"
Well, [Name has been redacted], the bad news is that you are required to keep a journal and this shows you why the smart guys in Austin thinks you need to.  Also, if the Dallas Morning News is so inclined, they can file a complaint against Ms. [Name has been redacted]  for not complying with their request.  (Notary records are public records.)
Another article published recently stated that the Texas Secretary of State is looking into the notary's behavior.  

SOURCE:  Tod Robberson, DALLAS MORNING NEWS (Dec. 16, 2014)

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