White-Collar Crime

Fugitive lawyer among 'financial thugs' indicted in record $13.5M loan-modification case, DA says

A California lawyer is among seven defendants indicted in what prosecutors are calling the largest mortgage loan modification case ever pursued in the U.S.

Attorney Pamela Gressier is accused of playing a role in a scheme in which Orange County deputy district attorney Megan Wagner said.”financial thugs” obtained over $13.5 million by promising to help more than 3,500 struggling homeowners obtain mortgage modifications if they paid illegal up-front fees averaging $4,000 to apparent law firms. Little or nothing was then done to help these individuals, the government says in an indictment unsealed Thursday.

Gressier, who appears to be the only lawyer among the defendants, is linked to law firms including Newport Beach-based Remedy Center Law Associates, which marketed to individuals throughout the country, according to the L.A. Now blog of the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) and the Orange County Register.

“There’s one attorney, and there’s 3,500 clients,” said Wagner. “And you tell me whether that’s a law firm.”

Gressier is accused, along with Maziar Bordbar, Nathaniel Ferrer, and Saeid Yarandi of setting up the law firm and repeatedly changing its name, the Daily Pilot reports.

Three additional defendants, Roberto Duran, Masood Taghizadeh, and Joel Valdellon, are accused of running a sales team for the scheme that falsely told potential customers they qualified for loan modifications and promised representation by a lawyer.

A press release from the Orange County DA’s office details the charges against the defendants in the alleged scheme, which operated between 2010 and 2013.

Gressier and her counsel could not be reached for comment, the Register says. The press release says Gressier is a fugitive.

She faces multiple felony counts of conspiracy, grand theft, money laundering and filing a false or fraudulent tax return. If convicted on all counts, she could get a maximum of over 48 years in prison.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com (2012): “‘Huge’ Number of Lawyers Accused In Civil and Criminal Mortgage-Related Fraud Cases”

ABAJournal.com (2013): “Lawyers in multiple states face inquiry, or worse, over legal fees in mortgage foreclosure matters”

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