Non-Profit Law Firm Scores Permanent Injunction On Behalf Of Low-Income Farmworker Who Nearly Lost His Home To Foreclosure After Being Screwed Over By Loan Modification Racket
In Fresno, California, The Fresno Bee reports:
- A judge has signed a court order that prevents a Fresno foreclosure consulting business from engaging in unlawful and deceptive practices.
The permanent injunction names Legal Foreclosure Services, Inc. which operates at 135 W. Shaw Ave. and once did business as Foreclosure Counseling, Inc., and Foreclosure Professionals, Inc.
Edward Anguiano, Raul Pelcastre, Brenda Alvarez and Frank Gutierrez -- who owned or worked for the companies -- also are named as defendants.
The court order stems from a March 2011 civil lawsuit filed in Fresno County Superior Court by farmworker Florentino Salazar who nearly lost his Firebaugh home to foreclosure after he hired the consulting business.
Salazar was able to save his home after the Central California Legal Services, Inc., in Fresno intervened on his behalf.(1)
CCLS staff attorney Ofra Pleban said Friday that the defendants targeted Spanish-speaking people by advertising on television and through their web site.
"The defendants operated as loan modification and foreclosure avoidance consultants in violation of the law," Pleban said. "They operated without the required licenses and bonds, and unlawfully charged advance fees, and misrepresented the type and scope of their services."
Pleban said Anguiano is the principal owner of the three businesses. Efforts to reach him and his attorney Bruce Neilson were unsuccessful.
Salazar, who is married and has three children, purchased his home in Firebaugh in 1996. He got behind on payments after he needed surgery and had to pay costly medical bills, Pleban said.
In 2010, Salazar hired the defendants and paid them $2,400, Pleban said. In return, they promised to modify his home loan. But instead of refinancing the loan, the defendants advised Salazar to quit making payments, which put his home on the brink of foreclosure, Pleban said.
Judge M. Bruce Smith signed the permanent injunction on June 26.
Pleban said the defendants' unlawful activities were not limited to their transactions with Salazar, but rather "it was their business model."
"They have failed to provide the promised services, failed to obtain any benefits to their clients, and many times were the direct cause of the eventual foreclosure of their clients' homes," she said.
In addition, the California Department of Real Estate issued an order in March 2010, informing the defendants quit "these same unlawful activities," Pleban said. "Nevertheless they continued with their unlawful practices in complete disregard to the order," she said.
If the defendants violate the judge's order, Pleban said CCLS will seek immediate enforcement "to make certain that homeowners are protected."
"We applaud Mr. Salazar for standing up to defend his family and in doing so won protection for countless other families who otherwise could fall victim to these defendants," Pleban said.
(1) Central California Legal Services is a non-profit law firm providing free legal assistance to low income families and individuals in the following counties in the state: Fresno, Kings, Mariposa, Merced, Tulare, and Tuolumne.