NTG exec claims loans were forged John M. Collard, Chairman, Strategic Management Partners, Inc. was interim CEO for Network Technologies Group, Inc.
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John M. Collard, Chairman, Strategic Management Partners, Inc. was interim CEO for Network Technologies Group, Inc.
NTG exec claims loans were forged        Text
by Larry Rulison

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August 30, 2002     Print Edition 

NTG exec claims loans were forged

Larry Rulison   Staff

The founder of Network Technologies Group Inc. is claiming that the company used forged loan documents to obtain more than $4 million in financing from Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co., according to court records.

Victor J. Giordani Jr. NTG's founder and its former chief operating officer alleges signatures bearing his name on NTG loan documents are false, papers filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court detail.

A 1999 loan guarantee with Mercantile and a modified agreement from 2000 contained forgeries of Giordani's signature as well as that of his wife, Judith, according to the documents filed by Giordani's attorney, Michael P. May. Giordani also signed an affidavit claiming the signatures were forgeries.

Giordani used the argument to get Mercantile to drop a $1.38 million lawsuit against him and his wife. The bank had sued Giordani and former CEO Michele A. Tobin in July, arguing the two officers and another NTG executive and his wife signed personal guarantees for the loans.

"The defendant, Victor J. Giordani Jr., did not authorize anyone at any time to sign his name to either the individual guaranty or to the modification agreement," the court filing says.

Meanwhile, Tobin is fighting back against the bank in an attempt to get the court to dismiss a $713,000 judgment against her personal assets, which include a house located near Vail, Colo. Tobin sold her Baltimore County home, located in the upscale Stoneleigh neighborhood, for $430,000 on Aug. 9, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The revelations are just the latest in the series of events that have unfolded as Mercantile fights to recoup more than $3.5 million in loans NTG never paid back before the Fells Point telecommunication firm collapsed last month amid allegations of accounting irregularities.

The bank, which will not comment on the case, was granted a $713,000 judgment against Tobin in Baltimore County Circuit Court after arguing she guaranteed 20 percent of the NTG loan with her personal assets.

Repeated attempts to reach Tobin for comment have been unsuccessful. But on Aug. 26, her Washington attorney, Monique D. Almy, filed a motion to vacate the judgment, arguing the bank has not given Tobin enough information about what she owes.

"Mercantile has taken aggressive steps to tie up Ms. Tobin's assets," Tobin's lawyer wrote the court. "At the same time, Mercantile has ignored repeated requests from Ms. Tobin to provide her with copies of the loan documents related to this matter. As a result of Mercantile's tactics, Ms. Tobin has not been able to determine what other defenses may be available to her."

Almy, of Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman, LLP, also submitted a signed affidavit from Tobin dated Aug. 23 that was notarized in Eagle County, Colo. Tobin owns a house there near the posh ski resort town of Vail valued at $309,000, according to property records from the Eagle County assessor's office. Almy could not be reached for comment.

Tobin resigned from NTG in late June for personal reasons and was replaced by John M. Collard, an Annapolis turnaround consultant. Shortly after taking over as interim CEO, Collard says he discovered alleged accounting irregularities. Mercantile pulled its financing, and Collard was forced to close the company and lay off all 125 employees.

NTG's modified agreement with Mercantile copies of which the bank filed in its lawsuit against Tobin contain signatures bearing the names of Tobin, the Giordanis and former NTG executive Daniel Welsh and his wife, Deborah. The documents were notarized by Bonnie J. Towner, a former NTG employee.

However, both the Giordanis and the Welshes have denied signing the Mercantile loan guarantees or having any part in the alleged accounting irregularities. Federal law enforcement authorities are investigating the company's collapse and have seized company records, Collard said.

Giordani's attorney, May, declined to speculate who allegedly forged the signatures on the Mercantile loan documents.

"They destroyed his dream," May said. "What a nightmare."

Repeated attempts to reach Towner have been unsuccessful as well.

Larry Rulison can be reached at lrulison@bizjournals.com.


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