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Notary Bulletin

Forged Notary Seals Earn Criminal Longer Prison Sentence

forgery handcuffs resizedForging Notary seals is a serious crime that warrants an “enhanced” prison sentence, according to a federal appeals court ruling issued last week.

In upholding the 10-year prison sentence of a Glendale man who pled guilty to helping orchestrate a $5.4 million mortgage fraud scheme, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Notary seal is an “authentication feature” used to determine if a “document is counterfeit, altered, or otherwise falsified.” As such, it qualifies as a sentencing enhancement under federal guidelines.

Henrik Sardariani was given a substantially longer sentence than his co-conspirators because he admitted to creating bogus property records that included “forged and fraudulent signatures and seals of Notaries,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

One co-conspirator was given a 6½-year sentence, and another was sentenced to four years in prison.

Sardariani appealed his sentence, arguing that authentication features only apply to identification documents issued by government agencies. As such, a Notary seal was not an authentication feature.

However, the court noted that seals are used to authenticate signatures, which federal law considers a means of identification. And Sardariani used the forged seals and Notary signatures to trick county recorders offices into believing the fake documents were genuine.

Related Stories:
How One Notary Was Saved From A Costly Lawsuit Over A Forged Seal
California Man Pleads Guilty In Stolen Notary ID Case

 

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

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