North Miami Beach attorney Madsen Marcellus Jr. forged a fight with his first wife for their home when they divorced. But the multiple ways "forged" can apply resulted in Marcellus' suspension from practicing law.
The Florida Supreme Court Referee's report found Marcellus knew his ex-wife's signature had been forged on a loan modification document, stopping just short of saying Marcellus engineered the forgery. Also, the Referee's report repeatedly described Marcellus' testimony as "not credible" and that it "strains credulity."
And, finally, Marcellus violated the final divorce order involving the Pembroke Pines house. That includes moving into the house with his second wife. Violating court orders is a no-no, especially for attorneys.
The suspension by the Florida Supreme Court, announced in the Florida Bar's most recent discipline report, began May 25.
For his part, Marcellus admitted he knew his ex-wife hadn't signed a loan modification he submitted to his lender, but said he thought someone else had signed her name with her permission. That was one of the claims Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Howard K. Coates, acting as Referee, found "not to be credible."
Marcellus had a clean discipline record since joining the Florida Bar in 2003 after graduating from University of Florida law school. The final order of his divorce from Kellie Petersen, which came down in 2010, required that he either refinance their home or sell it so Petersen would be off the title and free from any future financial responsibility.
She said Marcellus had moved out of the house. After the bank approved a short sale, she and their children moved out of the house two days before the closing. Then, she testified, Marcellus moved back in, refused to leave or sign the paperwork for closing.
Marcellus denied all of the above, of which Coates wrote, "I do not find [Marcellus'] testimony credible."
Marcellus testified he tried to arrange a loan modification, which required both his signature and Petersen's. After Petersen's initial resistance, Marcellus said a friend helping with the loan modification, Curt Francis, told Marcellus that he "had secured [Petersen's] permission to execute the application on her behalf" on a phone call.
Coates noted that Marcellus didn't personally verify his ex-wife's change of mind. She said that not only did she not change her mind, there wasn't a phone call from Francis. On top of that, Coates noted, Francis notarized Petersen's signature though he knew it wasn't hers and Marcellus knew about it.
This cost Francis his notary commission. And has cost Marcellus his law license until the suspension is lifted.
Coates wrote in May 2017, "I further find that [Marcellus] remains in violation of the court's order concerning the marital home even to this day, seven years after the dissolution, in that he himself admitted he has never refinanced the home out of the former wife's name, nor has he ever put the home up for sale. Indeed, he still resides in the home with his current wife, despite the court's specific order and despite the fact that he does not make any payments on same."
According to Broward County online records, he sold the house for $477,000 on May 22, three weeks ago. His divorce from his second wife was final last July 12.