Berg often portrayed himself as a lawyer
Frederick Darren Berg has repeatedly claimed to be a lawyer, seeking to impress or sway trade magazines, lenders, even a judge. When a Washington Utilities...
Seattle Times deputy business editor
Frederick Darren Berg has repeatedly claimed to be a lawyer, seeking to impress or sway trade magazines, lenders, even a judge.
When a Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission inspector cited Berg's bus company for a minor infraction in 2007, Berg attacked the legal underpinnings of the commission's regulations. An administrative law judge later dismissed the critique as "strident" and "mere chicanery."
At a hearing on the case, Berg identified himself as the company's general counsel and owner, but the transportation commission's staff pointed out that he wasn't a member of the bar.
Berg admitted at the hearing he wasn't an attorney but insisted he had a law degree.
There's no record that Berg does. He attended the University of Oregon in the 1980s, but the school says he didn't even earn an undergraduate degree.
Berg's claims to be a lawyer also greased the way for another alleged deception, this one involving land on which he built his mother a house in Grants Pass, Ore.
Shamrock Mortgage, a Bellevue firm co-owned by S.D. McCoy, loaned Berg's Meridian Partnership Management $40,000 in 2000 to buy the property.
Because Berg claimed to be a licensed attorney, McCoy said he agreed Berg could handle the escrow and record the deed of trust that made the property collateral for Shamrock's loan.
The monthly payments from Berg "kept coming in on time" for 10 years, said McCoy.
But last fall, according to a lawsuit filed by McCoy, he discovered Berg had never filed the loan documents. Berg later took out $240,000 in other loans on the same property and transferred its ownership — leaving Shamrock with no way to collect on its loan once Berg filed for bankruptcy. "We became too trusting," said McCoy.
Rami Grunbaum: email@example.com
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