Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson have jointly sued Berger Law Group, Resolution Law Group, and related entities and individuals over allegations that they collected at least $4.7 million in illegal upfront fees from distressed homeowners. Under their authority to enforce the federal Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule and Florida and Connecticut laws prohibiting deceptive and unfair trade practices, AG Bondi and AG Jepson filed a complaint alleging that four individuals and four businesses formulated and participated in a mortgage rescue scam based in Florida that targeted consumers across the country by making false promises of relief from their mortgages and money damages through mass-joinder litigation.
The attorneys general obtained a temporary restraining order and appointment of a receiver in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against the defendants. The order prohibits the defendants from taking fees from consumers and making further misrepresentations regarding the alleged scam. It also freezes bank accounts that have allegedly been used to funnel profits to non-lawyers.
The states allege that the RLG/BLG Enterprise collected millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees by deceptively convincing consumers to pay to be included as plaintiffs in so-called mass-joinder lawsuits against their mortgage lenders or servicers. Organized and largely controlled by individuals who had been sanctioned for a similar mortgage relief scam in California, the RLG/BLG Enterprise allegedly sought to take advantage of regulatory exemptions for the practice of law by holding itself out as a law firm. The defendants charged consumers a large upfront enrollment fee, typically $6,000, and monthly payments of $500 for participating in the mass-joinder lawsuit.
"These mass joinder scams are some of the worst scams resulting from the foreclosure crisis because they take advantage of consumers’ trust in the legal system and legal advocates,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I am thankful for Attorney General Jepsen’s partnership in holding these individuals responsible and providing relief to the consumers who were harmed.”
The complaint names the following as defendants:
►Ian Berger, an attorney licensed to practice in Florida, and resident of Tampa, Fla.;
►The Berger Law Group PA, a Florida corporation formed by Berger in August of 2013;
►David Friedman, a non-attorney and resident of Tampa, Fla.;
►Resolution Law Center LLC, a Florida limited liability company in Tampa formed by Friedman in December of 2011;
►Robert Geoffrey Broderick, an attorney licensed to practice in Connecticut, New Jersey and the District of Columbia and a resident of San Clemente, Calif.;
►The Resolution Law Group PC, a Connecticut corporation formed by Broderick in November 2011;
►Gary L. DiGirolamo, a non-attorney and resident of Mission Viejo, Calif.; and
►Litigation Law LLC, a Florida limited liability company formed by DiGirolamo in May 2011.
Attorney General Bondi’s Office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently filed similar claims against the Hoffman Law Group and related entities operating in North Palm Beach Florida. Attorney General Bondi obtained a temporary restraining order and appointment of a receiver in the Hoffman Case and litigation continues.