Attorney Cory Briggs. Photo by Sam Hodgson
Attorney Cory Briggs. Photo by Sam Hodgson

by Brad Racino and Brooke Williams

San Diego attorney Cory Briggs removed a $200,000 lien he had placed on a private home after inewsource raised questions about the appropriateness of the lawyer’s real estate deals.

Marlene Nisbet told inewsource on Feb.12 she barely knew Briggs and that she entered into the deed of trust on her home to protect her assets in the face of a personal injury lawsuit. A lien against her property could make it look to creditors as if the house was encumbered by a loan and not worth much.

Read more about Briggs’ liens in our first story in this series

Nisbet said Briggs never actually gave her a $200,000 loan and she never made mortgage payments to him. She also said she was unaware that there was still a lien on her house and was “going to try to take care of it.” The deed of trust is dated June 20, 2007.

Several experts inewsource interviewed said filing a fake lien against a house to protect assets from creditors would not be legal.

William Black teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and was the executive director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention.

“It is both unethical and a crime,” Black said, “to knowingly assist a client in hiding assets.”

inewsource asked Briggs about his liens on Feb. 11, but he ended the interview without answering.

Six days later, on Feb. 17, a Grant Taylor walked into the San Bernardino County Recorder’s office and filed the paperwork removing the lien from Nisbet’s house.

Briggs and the notary, who is an employee at his law firm, signed and dated the reconveyance Jan. 21, 2015. The document is signed under penalty of perjury.

inewsource asked Richard Hagar, a real estate agent, appraiser and instructor, his thoughts on the situation. He called the transaction “very suspicious.”

“Was it really dated in January or did they just backdate it? There’s my first question,” he said.

“It appears that it’s simply somebody’s way of trying to hide an asset, or make it appear there was a lien against it when there was not,” Hagar said.

inewsource unsuccessfully attempted to interview Nisbet again in March.

Timeline of events:

  • May 7, 2007 — Marlene and Jeffrey Nisbet are named as defendants in a personal injury lawsuit.
  • June 20, 2007 — Marlene and Jeffrey Nisbet sign a deed of trust with the Briggs Law Corp. for $200,000 on their home in Rancho Cucamonga.
  • Feb. 11, 2015 inewsource interviews Briggs, unsuccessfully, about his land deals.
  • Feb. 12 and 13, 2015inewsource speaks with Marlene Nisbet by phone. She said she contacted Briggs because she was “trying to protect our assets in looking at a potential lawsuit.” She said she was unaware that there was a $200,000 lien on her house. inewsource obtained the deed, which says the “debt“ is “due and payable on conclusion of beneficiary’s representation of Borrower(s).”
  • Feb. 17, 2015 — The lien is reconveyed, or removed, by Briggs. Grant Taylor filed the documents in person at the San Bernardino County Recorder’s office on Feb. 17. The documents are signed and dated by Briggs and his notary Jan. 21, 2015.

Brad Racino was the assistant editor and senior investigative reporter at inewsource. He's a big fan of transparency, whistleblowers and government agencies forgetting to redact key information from FOIA requests. Brad received his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in...