Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Suspect's Attorney In Alleged Loan Modification Scam Invokes 'Crappy Businessman' Defense, Saying Client's Conduct Not Criminal; 'All He Did Was Prepare Packages'; Defendant To Dodge Bail Increase From $215K To $325K If He Forks Over Passport

In Sonoma County, California, KGO-TV Channel 7 reports:
  • A Sonoma County man accused of bilking dozens of distressed homeowners out of tens of thousands of dollars faces 19 new criminal counts.

    Miguel Angel Lopez now faces a total of 64 criminal counts, not including dozens of enhancement charges, which would add to his prison sentence if convicted. Many of his victims Monday saw the suspect for the first time since his arrest five weeks ago and emotions ran high.

    Lopez walked to the front of the courtroom before judge Shelly Averill to enter his plea. He was then asked to sit down because prosecutor Caroline Chen was granted a private meeting with the judge and the defense attorney. Averill later announced that 19 new criminal counts were added to the charges, that includes nine charges for mortgage fraud and nine charges for grand theft.

    Lopez, who is out on bail, refused to talk to ABC7 News after being approached by 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney Monday.

    Later, his attorney Stephen Turer called the charges a witch hunt.

    "Because I don't think what he did was criminal," Turer said. "He is a bad business man, but there's a big difference between being a bad business man and a criminal."

    7 On Your Side pressed Turer on whether Lopez took advanced fees from clients for mortgage modifications in violation of state law. "What advantage did he take? He said he'd prepared packages, he prepared the packages," Turer said. "He said he wasn't responsible for carrying out further actions, he didn't."

    Following the hearing, those who call themselves victims of Lopez were feeling pretty good.

    "I wish he was with the inmates," said Glenda Corde, a Santa Rosa resident. "I wish he wasn't free to walk around." "I was losing hope, but after today I think that he's going to need to do some jail time," said Lisa Marvier, a Santa Rosa resident.

    Lopez is scheduled to be back in court July 8 to enter his plea.

    The prosecutor from the State Department of Justice requested that bail be raised from $215,000 to $325,000. The judge said she would deny the request as long as Lopez turns over his passport.

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