Thursday, November 22, 2012

California State Bar Brings Disciplinary Charges In Connection With Attorney Allegedly 'Renting Out His Law License' To Loan Modification Operator In Exchange For Share Of Fees

The State Bar of California recently announced:

  • The State Bar of California has filed disciplinary charges against a Garden Grove attorney accused of taking illegal advanced fees from distressed homeowners and partnering with non-lawyers in a large-scale loan modification scheme.

    Stephen Lyster Siringoringo [Bar # 264161] has been charged with 25 counts of misconduct including collecting advance fees for loan modification services, forming a partnership with a non-lawyer, sharing fees with a non-lawyer, moral turpitude and aiding in the unauthorized practice of law.

    Siringoringo heavily advertised his services in southern California, even though the state Legislature has prohibited the acceptance of advance fees for loan modification work.

    "Mr. Siringoringo's acceptance of advanced fees in disregard of California law is a stark reminder that almost three years after the passage of SB 94, loan modification abuses and fraud are alive and well and that some of the most financially distressed and vulnerable members of the public are still being victimized and exploited for financial gain," said Ashod Mooradian, deputy trial counsel at the State Bar.

    According to the notice of disciplinary charges against him, Siringoringo, 31, first met his non-lawyer partners Alfred Clausen and Josh Cobb, the owners and operators of Clausen & Cobb Management, Inc. (CCMI), in December 2009. Soon after, Siringoringo agreed to allow them to open an office his name in Upland, in exchange for a share of the legal fees it brought in.

    The office, staffed by CCMI employees who operated independently, performed legal services and with met clients without Siringoringo's supervision. The operation generated enough money to open two other locations in Siringoringo's name – in Glendale and Rancho Cucamonga.

    Filed Oct. 10, the disciplinary notice lists at least 23 victims of the loan modification scam, some of them couples. It also accuses Siringoringo of “habitually” disregarding his loan modification practice and misleading his clients into believing he was actually in charge of their cases “when in truth and fact CCMI was in charge and operated the loan modification law practice known as Siringoringo Law Office or the Law Offices of Stephen L. Siringoringo.” The State Bar has placed a consumer alert on his online attorney profile page.

    Siringoringo's case represents the latest in the State Bar's ongoing efforts to combat loan modification fraud. Since February 2009, the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel has received thousands of complaints against attorneys regarding loan modification fraud. More than 100 attorneys have been disciplined so far, including 22 who have been disbarred.
Source: Garden Grove Attorney Charged With Taking Advanced Fees From Distressed Homeowners, Forming Partnerships With Non-Lawyers.

See ETHICS ALERT: Legal Services to Distressed Homeowners and Foreclosure Consultants on Loan Modifications for a California State Bar advisory addressing the professional ethics issues arising in relationships between attorneys and non-attorney loan modification operators.

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