Fake Florida Lawyers Sentenced to Five Years in Prison
A little over a year ago, a group of South Florida men were arrested for operating multiple illegitimate foreclosure law firms across the state. They preyed upon young lawyers with Craigslist ads, using their bar numbers and other information to provide a front for the operation. Adam Forman and Joseph Hilton (Starr), along with several other men, operated multiple false law firms across the state of Florida. The Asset Protection Law Firm, Liberty Law Group, P.A., Business Administration Growth LLC, Legal Referral Services of Florida II LLC, Galler Lehman Law, Consumer Legal Advocates Inc, Consumer Legal Advocates II LLC, and Oracle Marketing Co. are among the illegitimate firms created by Forman and Hilton since 2013.
The group, led by Forman and Hilton, used these firms to deceive homeowners into hefty high legal fees for services that were not conducted by licensed attorneys. In fact, none of the men associated with these firms are or were licensed attorneys. These fake law firms operated under the guise of assisting homeowners, but the reality is that many have lost or will lose their homes as a result of false information and representation.
Not only this, but the careers of several young lawyers were placed in jeopardy. New lawyers unwittingly signed up for part-time jobs with the false firms only to have their information stolen and used to commit crimes. Homeowners believed these lawyers were representing them, when the lawyers had no idea that these clients even existed. Their names, bar numbers, and other identifying information were used on retainer agreements, pleadings, and letterheads. When a lawyer would suspect foul play and quit the firm, Forman and Hilton would simply seek out another newly barred attorney to scam.
The false firms would direct clients not to pay their mortgages and instead, to pay them. They directed clients to not speak with lenders and disregard any letters or other communications, claiming that the firm would handle it all. It is alleged that Forman, Hilton, and their associates would verbally harass and threaten clients who stopped making payments or who expressed displeasure with their case. Homeowners represented by any one of the firms received false representation while their actual legal problems were ignored.
Detectives tracked down hundreds of clients who were scammed by Forman and Hilton, ranging throughout Florida and up to New Jersey and Ohio. In November 2017, Hilton and Forman were sentenced in federal court. They each received a sentence of five years and three months in prison. Hilton was ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution—Forman’s restitution amount has yet to be determined. Victor Spagnuolo, another man involved in the scheme, was in charge of hiring new attorneys and stealing their information. He was recently charged with multiple counts of wire fraud, aggravated wire fraud, and identity theft. He has yet to be sentenced.Call Pallegar Law, P.A. Today
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney at Pallegar Law, P.A. Call 813-444-3912 for a free consultation.Sources: