In Los Angeles, California, Metropolitan News Enterprise
- The State Bar of California said  that Orange County attorney Mark Alan Shoemaker has agreed to be disbarred for loan modification misconduct. Shoemaker, 50, did so as a result of complaints from 18 homeowners who received little or nothing for their money when seeking help in trying to change the terms of their mortgage and avoid foreclosure, the State Bar said.(1) He is the sixth lawyer to agree to disbarment since the group created its Loan Modification Task Force in April 2009.(2)
- The State Bar said that Shoemaker, as president of Advocate For Fair Lending, promised homeowners “trapped in their mortgages” that his company could “reduce your payments, interest and balance without refinancing your home.” Clients paid a minimum $1,000 a month for three months for the company’s services.
- The company promised to audit loan documents, which, Shoemaker said in a stipulation letter, “had no value to clients.” Demand letters were sent to lenders and when they didn’t respond, AFFL said the client would need an attorney for an additional fee.(3)
For more, see Sixth Attorney Agrees to Disbarment for Loan Modification Misconduct.
See Another Lawyer Agrees To Disbarment For Loan Modification Activities for the State Bar of California press release.
(1) Shoemaker's reportedly admitted State Bar violations include:
- knowing or being “grossly negligent in not knowing” employees who were not lawyers were giving legal advice,
- failed to perform legal services competently,
- failed to refund unearned fees (see footnote 3, below),
- inadequately communicated with clients,
- failed to account for advanced fees and costs,
- charged an unconscionable fee,
- failed to deposit funds in a client trust account, and
- aided a non-attorney in the practice of law,
(2) “What the State Bar discipline system is doing to lawyers engaged in loan modification misconduct is historic,” State Bar Chief Trial Counsel James Towery reportedly said. “The [State Bar] has never so aggressively gone after a group of attorneys for misconduct.” Towery reportedly described as “remarkable” the results of State Bar prosecutors working to stop foreclosure-related unethical behavior. According to the story, in addition to the six disbarments, the State Bar’s Loan Modification Task Force has obtained 12 resignations of attorneys involved in loan modification misconduct. Six trials are pending, another 1,800 active investigations related to loan modification are underway, and more than 4,000 complaints have come through the task force since it was formed, the story states.
(3) Homeowners ripped off by the dishonest conduct of a California attorney (including a failure to refund unearned legal fees) who want to recover their money can apply for possible restitution from the Client Security Fund of the State Bar of California (up to $100,000 if the screwing over occurred on or after January 1, 2009; up to $50,000 is reimbursable if the dirty deed(s) occurred before January 1, 2009. See also Can the Client Security Fund Help You?).
For earlier posts referencing California's Client Security Fund in the context of loan modification ripoffs, see:
For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see: