A Florida notary is facing a $20,000 fine for using the word “chinese” in a letter to a Florida homeowner.
The letter, which was sent to a resident who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, said he had “received an order of removal” from the notary because he did not provide a Chinese-sounding name in the address.
The homeowner filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in May after receiving a letter from the Notary Office of Miami-Dade County in which they threatened to seize his home if he did nothing.
He said he also received a letter in August that warned him that he was “in the best position to prove that the notarized document was genuine and was issued by a Florida notarizing agency.”
A spokeswoman for the Florida Office of Law, Standards and Ethics told the Miami Herald the notarial license issued by the Notaries of State of Florida does not automatically allow the use of Chinese characters, although the letter is clearly signed in Chinese characters and has a Chinese writing style.
“This is not a case of someone acting out of the blue and acting maliciously,” said spokeswoman Natalie Johnson.
“It’s a case that was brought to our attention and we’re looking into the matter.”
A letter sent to the Notarizing Board of the Florida Notary Public Association by the Florida Attorney General’s Office said the letter was “not authorized and not legal.”
“The Notary Board of Florida is authorized to issue notaries with a Chinese language license in Florida and notary license issued pursuant to Section 4(b) of the Code of Ethics for Notaries is not required,” the letter said.
The notary also faces a $25,000 penalty for using a Chinese character, which the Florida attorney general’s office says “may be interpreted as a violation of the State’s Fair Employment Practices Act and other applicable state and federal law.”