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Federal Agents Arrest Operators of an “Attorney Backed” Loan Modification Scam in California

Bryan D’Antonio, 47, Brea, California, and Charles Wayne Farris, 53, Aliso Viejo, California, were arrested for operating the Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group, businesses that allegedly offered bogus loan modification assistance to struggling homeowners. Ronald Rodis, 49, Irvine, California, an attorney, surrendered to federal agents on charges alleging that he participated in, and lent his name and the law license he formerly possessed to, the fraudulent operation.

All three defendants were named in a federal indictment unsealed following an investigation by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

According to the indictment, as a result of the scheme run by D’Antonio, Farris, and Rodis, more than 1,800 financially distressed homeowners lost a total of at least $12 million in fees they paid to the companies. Many homeowners also lost their homes to foreclosure. During a nine-month period that began in October 2008, the Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group allegedly defrauded distressed homeowners by making false promises and guarantees regarding the companies’ ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders, falsely representing that a “team of attorneys” would represent the homeowners and advising homeowners to cease making their mortgage payments.

The Rodis Law Group, and its successor company, America’s Law Group, allegedly advertised loan modification assistance on radio stations nationwide. According to the indictment, many of these radio advertisements featured Rodis’ voice telling homeowners that a “team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance” would negotiate with mortgage lenders. Sales staff hired and trained by Farris and D’Antonio allegedly told interested homeowners that Rodis Law Group was “100 percent successful,” “routinely lowered monthly payments,” and obtained reduced principal balances. According to the indictment, once the defendants and their co-conspirators convinced homeowners to pay a fee of several thousand dollars, little to no effort was made to obtain loan modifications. After making their payments, homeowners who tried to get updates on the status of their cases were often unable to contact anyone at either company.

D’Antonio, Farris, and Rodis are each charged with 10 felony counts—nine counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Each of these counts carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

“These arrests send a strong message to those who would prey on vulnerable homeowners during these tough financial times,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “If you defraud homeowners, you will be found and brought to justice.”

“Posing as successful lawyers, these defendants offered struggling homeowners false hopes and bogus promises of quality legal representation,” said U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California André Birotte, Jr. “The market offering loan modifications is rife with fraud, which is why we have redoubled our efforts to investigate and prosecute those who engage in financial crimes that target distressed homeowners.”

“The unconscionable act of scamming homeowners already facing foreclosure is far too common,” said Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office Bill Lewis. “This indictment should send a clear message to anyone contemplating similar crimes and should also remind potential victims to be cautious before paying fees to those offering financial rescue, regardless of whether the solicitor holds a law degree.”

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EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE – UNPRECEDENTED PROTECTION

LAWYERS REALTY GROUP is an attorney owned and operated real estate brokerage that was formed to help level the playing field between struggling homeowners and the banks who are threatening them with foreclosure, eviction, deficiency judgments, and collection actions.

Unlike traditional real estate agents, loan mod companies, bankruptcy attorneys, litigators and others who aggressively market their particular one-size-fits-all solution regardless of a homeowner’s future liability and financial well-being, Lawyers Realty Group provides clients with a customized analysis of their options, free legal counseling and clear direction on how to best resolve their particular mortgage issues – all without charging fees to the homeowner.

 

Derik N. Lewis, Esq., is the founder and president of Lawyers Realty Group. Derik is a California real estate attorney, a licensed Realtor® and a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. He graduated magna cum laude from Boston University School of Law and has nearly 30 years of real estate experience. For more than two decades as an attorney in private practice, Derik has represented California homeowners with difficult real estate matters. Derik previously served as legal counsel for some of the world’s largest lenders including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase (he knows how they operate and how to work within their systems to help you achieve the best possible outcome). He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Southern California School of Law speaking on real estate law, brokerage and litigation.

Professional Associations

  • Admitted to all State and Federal Courts in California
  • California Bar Association
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • National Association of Realtors
  • California Association of Realtors
  • Orange County Association of Realtors
  • California Regional Multiple Listing Service

No Cost Services

Free legal analysis of all of your options, including how to limit or eliminate tax and deficiency liability.

Complete representation for the option that best suits your situation, whether you need assistance in reviewing a loan modification, filing bankruptcy, seeking a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, pursuing a planned foreclosure or selling in a short sale.

Free Bankruptcy filing in the BK/Short Sale package.

Free legal review and fraud analysis of all solicitations from the bank, real estate agents, lawyers or others.

Free and complete short sale representation including MLS listing, marketing, negotiation, deficiency waivers and closing. You need an Attorney/Realtor® to provide legal leverage and fully protect your interests.

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