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Real Estate & Property Law

Helping Client Gets Minn. Attorney Suspended for 2 Years

Posted May 6, 2009 2:04 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Attorney Benjamin Houge had argued that his conduct merited only a reprimand. But the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended the Twin Cities practitioner for two years over his representation of a client who had previously been involved in mortgage frauds.

The court found that Houge had aided a client's probation violation by employing him in work—as an independent contractor researching foreclosed properties—that he was prohibited by court order from doing, reports the Star Tribune.

A hearing referee who recommended the suspension earlier found that Houge engaged in a "pattern of misconduct" that also included submitting false information about this work arrangement in court, the newspaper writes.

Although the opinion doesn't identify the client at issue, the newspaper says court documents in cases handled by Houge make clear that it is Thomas von Behren. Before Houge began representing him in 2000, von Behren was convicted of bank fraud and theft by swindle concerning the purchase and refinancing of foreclosed real estate.

Last week, the Star Tribune reported that another Houge client, Brett Thielen, is being federally investigated in an alleged mortgage flipping scheme. As described in an affidavit filed in federal court, it included some $2 million in proceeds reportedly sent by Houge to a lawyer in Australia.

The newspaper could not reach Houge, 60, when it sought his comment for the most recent article. He declined to comment for the earlier article.

Related coverage:

Andrews Publications: "Minn. Businessmen to Pay $1.7M for Running Foreclosure Scam "

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