Criminal Justice

Lawyer trying to collect cash for defrauded investors hospitalized after beating; brother of target charged

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James LaForte court filing photos

James LaForte is seen in a redacted law enforcement surveillance photo in September 2021 and an image from a security video. Images from the March 6 criminal complaint.

A Philadelphia lawyer was beaten with a metal object—possibly a flashlight—after leaving his law firm following a virtual court hearing Feb. 28, sending him to the hospital where he received seven staples to his skull.

The injured lawyer is Gaetan Alfano of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, report the Philadelphia Inquirer and Bloomberg.

Alfano represents a court-appointed receiver trying to identify assets that could be used to repay bilked investors in the small-business lending company Par Funding, based in Philadelphia. The assets included $100 million in personal and real property held by Par Funding founder and CEO Joseph LaForte, according to an FBI affidavit.

The man charged in the beating is 46-year-old James LaForte, the brother of Joseph LaForte, according to a criminal complaint filed March 6. Law enforcement identified James LaForte from security video showing a masked assailant who later removed his jacket, hat and mask. The image matched that of James LaForte captured in a September 2021 surveillance photo.

A lawyer from Alfano’s firm had rushed to the scene to help Alfano and saw a broken flashlight on the ground. He gave the flashlight to the FBI that evening.

Joseph LaForte and others have been ordered to pay $219 million following a civil settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Bloomberg.

James LaForte is charged with retaliation against a party or witness causing bodily injury and obstruction of a court proceeding. According to an FBI affidavit, James LaForte had worked for Par Funding for a period of time, and he allegedly directed another employee to travel to the businesses and personal homes of merchant debtors to use threats of violence to intimidate them into making payments.

Lawyers for James LaForte declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg. Alfano also declined to comment to the publication.

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