A tipster (send in your tips here) shared a court document with me showing the State of Florida being none to happy about the continued marketing efforts of Paul Gellenbeck and Fidelity Land Trust after a September 25, 2012 temporary injunction and asset freeze filed by the Office of the Attorney General in Florida. See this article.
It appears just when you thought the issue with Fidelity Land Trust had reached a new low point, it hasn’t. Now the State of Florida is asking for jail time.
This court document filed not only talks about Gallenbeck and Fidelity but introduces more information about Nicholas Torgerson.
The document says:
Nicholas Torgerson has participated with Paul Gellenbeck in the operation of Fidelity Land Trust since at least March of 2012. On March 7, 2012, Nicholas Torgerson forwarded to Defendants Shane Frankovic and Matthew Krac a list of Fidelity Land Trust Product Documents and Question and Answer sheet with the message “We are having huge success with all lead sources.” Torgerson copied Paul Gellenbeck on this email message to Frankovic and Krac. The subject of Torgerson’s March 7, 2012 email was “Fideltiy (sic) Process for Marketing Arm.” Torgerson went on in this email to outline lead filters and duties of sales reps; he also directs sales reps to email him at “Nick@becomethebank.com” and Torgerson will “approve or deny in 48-72 hours.”
Nicholas Torgerson’s participation continued throughout the ensuing months: for example, on May 3, 2012, Torgerson as President of Become The Bank, LLC forwarded Fidelity Land Trust closing documents, including a Warranty Deed to Fidelity Land Trust Company LLC, to a marketing agent for execution by the homeowner; on June 14, 2012, Torgerson sent an email to marketing agents as Vice President of Fidelity directing that he (Torgerson} was to receive 2 emails when a title request was entered; on June 21, 2012, on Fidelity’s behalf, Torgerson signed and accepted a Land Trust Agreement between Fidelity and a consumer; Torgerson also executed an Agreement to Protect and Defend between Fidelity and a consumer, signing as the manager of Fidelity; and on July 9, 2012, Torgerson as Vice President of Whitestone Capital Trust emailed marketing agents that a quitclaim deed to Fidelity Land Trust was not witnessed and a provisional assignment is blank.
Nicholas Torgerson has identified himself as President of Become The Bank, LLC as well as Vice President of The Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC, manager of Fidelity and Vice President of Whitestone Capital Trust. Nonetheless, Paul Gellenbeck contends that he and Fidelity Land Trust have no relationship with Nicholas Torgerson and Whitestone Capital Trust which Gellenbeck says is owned by Torgerson.
Initially, Paul Gellenbeck says that Nicholas Torgerson owns Whitestone Capital Trust and rented office space from Gellenbeck but moved out after the Attorney General’s lawsuit. Then, Gellenbeck inconsistently says that Torgerson was an underwriter for Fidelity but did not actually work for Fidelity. Gellenbeck also says Torgerson was referring clients to Fidelity in May 2012 although he was not a marketer for Fidelity. Finally, Gellenbeck concedes that Torgerson had the titles of Vice President and underwriter for Fidelity,
The Attorney General’s investigation establishes that Nicholas Torgerson has always been an active participant in Paul Gellenbeck’s operation of Fidelity Land Trust: for example, in June 2012, Torgerson executed a Fidelity Land Trust Confidentiality/NonDisclosure/Non-Circumvent Agreement and Torgerson’s name was manually interlineated in place of Paul Gellenbeck’s pre-printed name. Torgerson signed the Agreement on behalf of Fidelity. Exhibit N. On September 13, 2012, Paul Gellenbeck held a “Mandatory sales meeting for complete sales staff” and Nicholas Torgerson was one of the persons to whom the notice of meeting was sent. Exhibit 01 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Moreover, on September 14, 2012, Paul Gellenbeck forwarded to Nicholas Torgerson and Defendant Cheryl Irvin direction to get the referenced information into a power point presentation as soon as possible as the power point “will make us 30% more profitable!!” (nick @becomethebank.corn). Finally, on September 26, 2012, Nicholas Torgerson sent an email to a third party that confirms his knowledge of this Court’s Order and dismisses the instant enforcement action by the Attorney General as “politics”: “7. It does not say anywhere [referring to the Attorney General’s press release on September 26, 2012j that our work product doesn’t work! IT’S ALL POLITICS!!!”
On March 16, 2013, Nicholas Torgerson attempted to assign the cause of this litigation by the Office of the Attorney General to Cheryl Irvin’s advertising. Specifically, Nicholas Torgerson stated the following in an email message to her:
4. The Ball was dropped on the Defense side because the AG shut down the offense side. AG ordered a cease and desist on all activity.
5. AG is not the fault of Fidelity, you will learn that all the AG has a problem with is your advertising telling homeowners what Fidelity has done in the past. Your advertising didnt (sic) have things like May help you, or results may vary, it had no disclosures, that is what shut down Fidelity that led to all of this.
Whether identifying himself as representing Fidelity Land Trust, Become The Bank, LLC or even Whitestone Capital Trust, LLC, Nicholas Torgerson used the same telephone and fax numbers: (561) 692-2100 Direct and (954) 827-0281 Fax.
The implication from the forgoing is clear: The Attorney General alleges that Nicholas Torgerson has been an active participant with Paul Gellenbeck in the operation of Fidelity Land Trust.
Violations of the Injunction
Fidelity has executed at least 330 deed recordings after the issuance of the Order. These include at least 9 deeds that transferred the title to homes to Defendant The Sunshine State Land Trust Company, LLC as successor trustee; for example, a Warranty Deed dated August 2, 2012 but not recorded until October 2, 2012; and a Warranty Deed dated July 31, 2012 but not recorded until September 29, 2012 transferred titles from Fidelity to Defendant The Sunshine State Land Trust Company, LLC.
Moreover, Defendant The Sunshine State Land Trust Company, LLC has repeatedly executed and delivered at least 46 warranty or quitclaim deeds transferring title to consumers after the issuance of the Order; for example, a Warranty Deed dated November 12, 2012 and recorded on November 20, 2012 transferred title from The Sunshine State Land Trust Company, LLC to the consumer.
Since August 2, 2012, Fidelity has not had a publicly identified manager of record listed with the Department of Corporations, State of Florida.
Nonetheless, Fidelity has executed and delivered warranty or quitclaim deeds transferring title to consumers after the issuance of the Order on September 25,2 012; for example, a Warranty Deed dated January 11, 2013 and recorded on March 1, 2013 transferred title from Fidelity to the consumer.
Gellenbeck and Fidelity have circumvented the Order by receiving and recording deed transfers of title from consumers to Whitestone Capital Trust, LLC and USNB Corp. after the issuance of the Order. Paul Gellenbeck admits his involvement with USNB.
In addition to deed transfers, Gellenbeck and Fidelity have used third parties to invoice and/or receive funds on Gellenbeck and Fidelity’s behalf from consumers after the issuance of the Order on September 25, 2012.
Florida Land Trust Management was organized under the laws of Florida on or about August 29, 2012 by Dana Capiniello. Paul Gellenbeck says this is a company owned by Dana Carpiniello. On February 15, 2013 Paul Gellenbeck dissolved Florida Land Trust Management, LLC.
Mellody Marsh and Errol Marsh transferred title to their home in Broward County to Fidelity as Trustee of Trust No. 90071 in July of 2012. Despite the Order, Errol Marsh was invoiced $775.30 per month for services as late as January 2013. The invoices were in the name of Florida Land Trust Management.
Allen Keller transferred title to his home in Hillsborough County to Fidelity as Trustee of Trust No. 30050 in January of 2012. Exhibit BB1. Despite the Order, Mr. Keller was invoiced $900 per month for services as late as January 2013. The invoice was in the name of Florida Land Trust Management.
From November 2012 to February 2013, Mellody Marsh issued 4 checks payable to Florida Land Trust Management. Mellody Marsh’s November 2012 and December 2013 checks were deposited into an account at TD Bank’s Boca Federal Branch and were endorsed by Joseph Rivera on behalf of Florida Land Trust Management.
In December of 2012 and January of 2013, Mr. Keller issued 6 checks payable to Florida Land Trust Management. Five of those checks were deposited into an account at TD Bank’s Boca Federal Branch. One check was deposited into Aaron M. Cohen IOLTA account.
Mr. Keller also issued two checks to Fidelity Land Trust in November 2012 and December 2012, Exhibits DD2 and DD3. One check was deposited into Cohen & Kuvin, LLC IOLTA account and the other check was deposited into an account for Screen Inc.
In addition, at least 22 checks and money orders totaling $15,417.21 payable to either Fidelity Land Trust or Florida Land Trust Management or Land Trust Consultants have been deposited into Cohen & Kuvin, LLC’s trust account on or after September 25, 2012.
When Paul Gellenbeck was asked the reason that two checks were deposited into an attorney trust account, Gellenbeck was directed by his attorney not to answer on basis of attorney client privilege. However, Paul Gellenbeck testified that the fees Fidelity charges are for trustee services.” Thus, Paul Gellenbeck admits that Fidelity was rendering services and collecting fees from consumers after the issuance of this Court’s Order on September 25, 2012.
As evidenced in the affidavit and exhibits filed in support of this motion, Paul Gellenbeck and Fidelity Land Trust continued to actively participate in and market land trusts to consumers directly and indirectly through Nicholas Torgerson after September 25, 2012, thus engaging in the activities that the Order Granting Temporary Injunction and Asset Freeze Without Notice temporarily enjoins them from engaging in until the further order of the Court.
The violations of the Court’s Order have been committed with knowledge and intent. Paul Gellenbeck and The Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC received notice of the Court’s Order. The Attorney General respectfully requests that an Order to Show Cause and an Order of Criminal Contempt be issued to vindicate the authority of this Court, punishing Paul Gellenbeck and The Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC for their blatant violation of this Court’s temporary injunction and asset freeze, and protecting the public from the further harm they may likely inflict if allowed to continue to engage in deceptive or unfair acts and practices.
WHEREFORE th e Pl a intiff , OF FICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS, STATE OF FLORIDA, respectfully requests that the Court enter an Order to Show Cause why the Defendants Paul Gellenbeck and The Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC should not be held in Indirect Criminal Contempt for willfully and intentionally violating this Court’s Order Granting Temporary Injunction and Asset Freeze Without Notice; and thereafter, adjudicate said Defendants guilty of Criminal Contempt, sentence Defendant Paul Gellenbeck to a term of incarceration and order Defendant The Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC to pay a fine in an amount as determined by the Court.
You can read the full document here.