Monday, March 21, 2016

Disbarred For Looting Over $2 Million In Clients' Cash From Trust Account, Thieving Central Florida Ex-Lawyer Now Gets Tagged By Her Hubby For Allegedly Forging His Name On $900K Mortgage Secured By Marital Home, Which She Then Gave To One Of Her Ex-Law Client-Victims; Investigators Yet To Bring Criminal Charges As Probe Continues

In Sanford, Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reports:
  • Disbarred attorney Julie Kronhaus has already been sued by several former clients, who say $1.5 million of their money disappeared. Now, she's being sued by her husband.

    But not for divorce. His lawsuit alleges a forgery in a real estate deal that he is asking a judge to cancel.

    Cardiologist Kenneth Kronhaus, 62, says someone forged his name on a mortgage and note last year, putting in jeopardy the $1 million, 6,500-square-foot home he shares with his wife in Alaqua, one of Seminole County's most prestigious neighborhoods.

    According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, he knew nothing about the $900,000 mortgage and note that gives an Oviedo couple a stake in the house until he saw the documents three weeks after they were signed.

    The notary's signature also is a forgery, he alleges. The notary public whose stamp appears at the bottom is Leigh Smith of Mount Dora, a Starbucks employee at the time.

    Smith gave a sworn statement two months after the date on the mortgage, saying she has never met Ken or Julie Kronhaus and, though she is a notary public, has never notarized any documents.

    Dr. Kronhaus did not respond to a Thursday phone call. Neither did his attorney, his wife or her attorney, August J. "Jay" Stanton Jr. of Winter Park.

    The suit also names Alan and Brenda Cook of Oviedo, who accuse Julie Kronhaus, their longtime attorney and trust manager, of stealing nearly $1 million from them.

    Last year, a Sanford judge awarded them more than $2.7 million in damages — triple what they say she stole — but they have been unable to collect.

    Dr. Kronhaus' suit does not name the suspected forger, it simply lists three defendants: Julie Kronhaus and the Cooks.

    His 51-year-old wife was permanently disbarred last year by the Florida Supreme Court, which accused her of misappropriating funds, misconduct, violating accounting standards and failing to shut down her law practice when she had been ordered to do so months earlier.

    The state also stripped her of her certified public accountancy license.

    At least eight former clients have accused her of misappropriating more than $2 million. Three of them have sued, claiming they lost more than $1.5 million. Judges have awarded the trio $4.9 million in damages.
    ***
    The mortgage: Signed Jan. 28, 2015

    The Cooks discovered their trust account had been emptied in 2014 and demanded repayment, according to public records.

    Julie Kronhaus wrote them a pair of checks, each totaling more than $220,000, but they bounced, according to records from the Florida Bar.

    She then gave them a $900,000 stake in the home she shares with her husband, a physician who owns Lake Cardiology in Mount Dora and has a radio call-in show.

    She did that on Jan. 28, 2015, by signing a mortgage and note that require the Kronhauses to pay the Cooks $900,000 by next year. If they don't, the Cooks could then foreclose on the house.

    The Cooks also were unavailable for comment Thursday, but in previous interviews with the Sentinel said that Kronhaus had been their attorney and trustee for 17 years when they discovered in 2014 that she had emptied their trust fund.

    "She had control of my checkbook, power of attorney, she had everything I needed because basically I trusted her," Alan Cook said Dec. 23.

    "I thought surely by now we'd have our money back or she would be arrested," he said. "It's sickening to work your life, to work hard, both Brenda and myself. ... All of the sudden you're wiped out in the blink of an eye."

    But one of the Cooks' attorneys, Helen von Dolteren-Fournie, who drafted the disputed paperwork, described the sequence of events on Jan 28, 2015: The Kronhauses were to sign the mortgage and note at their home in front of a witness and notary public, but Julie Kronhaus said her husband could not get away from work, so she took it, saying she'd drive to Lake County and have it signed, witnessed and notarized there.

    Later that day she delivered the signed, notarized records to a law firm runner for Von Dolteren-Fournie at the Panera in Heathrow, and Brenda Cook then took it to a Seminole County Clerk's of Courts office to have it recorded, Von Dolteren-Fournie said.

    The Cooks have been critical of federal investigators and State Attorney Phil Archer, accusing them of failing to arrest and prosecute an embezzler.

    Archer said Thursday that he had talked to them earlier in the week.

    "I feel so sorry for the Cooks. They're nice people, great people," he said. "They've been devastated by this loss. Someone deserves to go to prison."

    But he said until an ongoing investigation is concluded, he cannot prosecute.

    The Seminole County Sheriff's Office investigated for several months then turned the matter over to the FBI, according to former Kronhaus clients.

    An FBI spokesman would not comment, but William Daniels, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa, on Thursday described the case as "ongoing."

    Archer said that earlier this week he spoke to an assistant U.S. attorney, who said they "hoped the investigation was nearing its end."

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home