Two Orange County, California men were sentenced to prison for helping set up and market a phony mortgage modification scheme posing as a successful law firm, the DOJ said.
Ronald Rodis, 52, of Long Beach, California, a lawyer who has now surrendered his license, was sentenced Tuesday to 41 months in federal prison.
Charles Wayne Farris, 56, of Aliso Viejo, California was sentenced to 47 months.
Both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in federal court in Santa Ana, California.
Federal judge David Carter also ordered Rodis to pay restitution of $3.8 million and Farris $3.5 million.
The defendants set up a firm called the Rodis Law Group.
During the worst of the housing crisis in 2008 and 2009, the firm charged homeowners between $3,500 and $5,500 to negotiate loan modifications with mortgage lenders.
The two lied about the firm’s ability to help homeowners.
And they hid the involvement of Bryan D’Antonio, the true owner of the scheme. D’Antonio was a convicted felon and subject to a permanent injunction barring him from any telemarketing business.
In April this year, D’Antonio was jailed for eight years and ordered to pay $3.8 million in restitution.
“These defendants . . . victimized homeowners facing foreclosure during the mortgage crisis,” the DOJ’s Chad Readler said.
They coerced and victimized vulnerable homeowners, according to Sandra Brown, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
Rodis was a licensed California lawyer. He allowed his name to be used and he recorded radio advertisements encouraging struggling homeowners to call the Rodis Law Group.
In the ads, Rodis claimed the law firm had “a team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance.”
But the firm was actually “a telemarketing operation that never had a team of experienced attorneys and rarely achieved any of the promised results for homeowners,” the DOJ said.
Farris supervised dozens of telemarketers. They used scripts he helped write.
The telemarketers lied about when the Rodis Law Group was founded and about achieving “positive results for homeowners, including lower monthly payments, reductions in principal balance, and lower interest rates.”
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.