IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
                       FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO

Civil Action No.


COLORADO LEGAL...
Plaintiffs Colorado Legal Services (“CLS”) and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.

(“TRLA”) upon personal knowledge as to the...
JURISDICTION AND VENUE

       4.   This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal

qu...
Weslaco, Austin, El Paso, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Harlingen,

Edinburg, Laredo, Sinton, and Vict...
10.   Upon information and belief, Legal Aid Service/Brownmgmt Inc. is a Colorado

corporation with a principal place of b...
80124 and a registered agent’s address at the same location. Sandra Forbs is the registered agent

for Legal Aide Inc.

  ...
Kaczmarek commented that she “had encountered con artist[s], phonies, and all sorts of

horrible people, the true dregs of...
23.   Upon information and belief, Derrich Edward Brown (a/k/a Derrick Brown, a/k/a

John Brown, a/k/a John Tharpe, a/k/a ...
29.   Upon information and belief, Michelle “Miki” Minzer is an individual residing

in Colorado. At the relevant time, Mi...
35.   Upon information and belief, Sandra Brown is an individual residing in Colorado.

Sandra Brown is reportedly the Vic...
42.    Before moving the nerve center of their operation to Colorado, Defendants Brown

and White had been operating out o...
45.    Defendants purport to offer paralegal services through LANS’s “paralegal

division” in all states except Alaska. De...
51.    Defendants explicitly offer various legal services that Defendants are unable and

unauthorized to provide.

      ...
58.    Defendants often complete the wrong paperwork for consumers, prolonging the

time it takes for the consumers to get...
A.      Colorado v. Brown, Nos. 04UPL034, 05SA156 (Colo. S. Ct.)

       65.    On November 14, 2005, the Colorado Supreme...
68.   Defendant Legal Aid Network Inc., through Brown, attempted to represent a

bankruptcy petitioner before the court. A...
attending a day of testimony in the proceedings before Judge Brooks, they were served with

a complaint in the hallway. In...
were also engaged in misconduct, he found that the court did “not have jurisdiction over

those issues under applicable no...
Network, and Brown Management). The court found that the “advice and assistance

provided to the debtor by the defendant c...
General prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law in Tennessee. (Ex. L). The Assurance

of Voluntary Compliance was ent...
Services program such as the Legal Aid Society of Dayton.” The court enjoined White and

his organizations from the unauth...
L.     Trustee v. Legal Aid Services, Adv. No. 95-159-DAS (Bankr. E.D. Pa.)

         84.   On May 11, 1995, the United St...
exchange, paperwork would be filled out and returned to the debtor to file as a pro se

petitioner. The court found that “...
94.    DeLaRiva contacted LANS to help her obtain her divorce. LANS required her to

pay more than $500.00 prior to comple...
101.     Harris met with Mathiowetz again in August 2007. At this time Mathiowetz

requested a $30.00 “retaining fee” and ...
108.      On or about December 18, 2007, Matthijetz called the number for “Legal Aid,

Inc.” that her father found in the ...
116.      Because Matthijetz had to borrow money from two different sources, a few

moments later, Matthijetz, herself, se...
125.    During that December 19, 2007 court hearing, Matthijetz lost custody of her

daughter for two weeks and did not un...
E.      Dinah Lea Roberts

       136.    On or about late March of 2007, Dinah Lea Roberts (“Roberts”) was served with

d...
148.    Roberts then asked “Howard James” if he could help her find a lawyer who could

help her in her divorce proceeding...
158.    Roberts told him that she would get him the money somehow and “Howard

James” told her that someone would call her...
168.   Roberts called “Chad Hart” back a few days later in order to get an update on her

case.

        169.   When she c...
180.     Roberts took the motion to the courthouse, where it was rejected for being

submitted late.

         181.     Te...
191.   Garcia called Information (“411”) and asked for the phone number of “Legal

Aid.”

        192.   The phone number ...
201.    After exchanging a number of forms back and forth through facsimile, Garcia

gave “Mary Frazier” authorization to ...
212.    Jones was later convicted of indecency with a child by exposure and required to

register as a sex offender under ...
222.      “Brenda” also told her that “Legal Aid” had paralegals who would do all the

paperwork for the adoption and name...
231.    Despite numerous phone calls and messages, Ervin has not spoken to anyone at

the LANS Corp. since she authorized ...
241.   The first question “David Durojave” asked her was where she had gotten the

“Legal Aid” phone number from, which Ca...
249.   “David Durojave” told Caldera that he would send her all of the necessary papers

and that she needed to sign the p...
259.    On August 29, 2007, Caldera sent supplemental information, including her sister’s

name, death certificate and sta...
269.    Caldera has received no completed paperwork or filing directly from the LANS

Corp. or “David Durojave,” “Mark Mea...
280.    During this first phone call, Duran gave “Michael” her debit card number and

authorized a charge for legal assist...
289.     Duran has not received any paperwork or spoken to anyone from the LANS Corp.

since this time.

       290.     D...
301.    Robles was first connected to an “Aubrey” who began asking her questions

immediately.

       302.    “Aubrey” fi...
312.    Without giving her his address, “John John” told Robles that this was impossible

because “Legal Aid” only handled...
323.    Robles called a number that referred consumers to government services and was

given the address for the Legal Aid...
334.   After Orosco explained her need for legal representation in her divorce and

custody proceedings, “John” assured Or...
345.    “John” made excuses for “Richard Handelman,” saying that he would email

“Richard Handelman” and ask him to call O...
357.   At this point, Orosco could take no more and said to “John” that she believed that

“Legal Aid is a scam.”

       ...
368.      Upon calling the phone number, she was immediately transferred to Ext. 700 and

spoke with a “Debby.”

       36...
379.    Carrasco also sent $450.00 to “Debby” at the end of August 2007, via Legal

PayPal.

       380.    Shortly after ...
390.   Carrasco did call the number provided by “Mr. White” and eventually she was

connected to a woman who identified he...
400.   Carrasco has received no further contact from anyone affiliated with any of the

people she spoke to, including “Ma...
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ...
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ...
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ...
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ...
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ...
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ...

  1. 1. IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO Civil Action No. COLORADO LEGAL SERVICES and TEXAS RIOGRANDE LEGAL AID, INC. Plaintiffs, v. LEGAL AID NATIONAL SERVICES, d/b/a THE LANS CORP., ED BROWN MANAGEMENT, INC., LEGAL AID SERVICE/BROWNMGMT INC., LEGAL AIDE INC., LEGAL AID NATIONAL PARALEGAL SERVICES DIVISION, INC., LEGAL AID LOW COST SERVICES INC., LEGAL AIDE DIVORCE SERVICES, INC., LEGAL SUPPORT SERVICES CORP. d/b/a LEGAL AID SUPPORT SERVICES, INC., P.I. INTERNATIONAL, CORP., US CHAPTER 7 & 13 INC., LEGAL AID SERVICES LLC, NATIONAL DOCUMENT PREPARATION SERVICES, INC., NATIONAL PARALEGAL SERVICES, INC., LEGAL AID NETWORK, INC., KENDRICK BROWN, DERRICH EDWARD BROWN, JASMINE EWING WHITE, MICHAEL KELLEY, RAYMOND ASHLEY, ANDREW E. EVANS, JR., MARK STEVEN MEAD, MICHELLE “MIKI” MINZER, THOMAS MATHIOWETZ, CARMEN JONES, KEITH THARPE, ELIZABETH FORBES, CARMELLA JONES, SANDRA BROWN, GAIL HURRY, and DOES 1 – 50. Defendants. COMPLAINT 1 ny-795068
  2. 2. Plaintiffs Colorado Legal Services (“CLS”) and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (“TRLA”) upon personal knowledge as to themselves and upon information and belief as to all other matters, by and through their undersigned attorneys, bring this complaint against Defendants Legal Aid National Services, d/b/a LANS Corp. (“LANS”), Ed Brown Management, Inc., Legal Aid Service/Brownmgmt Inc., Legal Aid National Paralegal Services Division, Inc., Legal Aid Low Cost Services Inc., Legal Aide Divorce Services, Inc., Legal Aide, Inc., Legal Support Services Corp. d/b/a Legal Aid Support Services, Inc., P.I. International, Corp., US Chapter 7 & 13 Inc., Legal Aid Services LLC, National Document Preparation Services, Inc., National Paralegal Services, Inc., Legal Aid Network, Inc., Kendrick Brown (a/k/a Kendrick White) (“White”), Derrich Edward Brown (“Brown”), Jasmine Ewing White, Michael Kelley, Raymond Ashley, Andrew E. Evans, Jr., Mark Steven Mead, Michelle “Miki” Minzer, Thomas Mathiowetz, Carmen Jones, Keith Tharpe, Elizabeth Forbes, Carmella Jones, Sandra Brown, Gail Hurry, and Does 1–50, and in support thereof hereby allege as follows. INTRODUCTION 1. This is an action for trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition, racketeering, unauthorized practice of law, violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act and common law claims under Colorado and Texas law arising out of conduct of Defendants. 2. Defendants are engaged in a nationwide enterprise designed to defraud consumers of legal services. 3. This action arises under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1962; Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) (federal statutory trademark infringement and unfair competition); 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1) (federal false advertising or promotion); and state statutes and common law. 2 ny-795068
  3. 3. JURISDICTION AND VENUE 4. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question); 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a) (any Act of Congress relating to trademarks); and 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (supplemental jurisdiction). 5. Venue for this action is properly founded in this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). PARTIES I. Plaintiffs 6. Colorado Legal Services is a Colorado corporation which was formed in 1925 as the Legal Aid Society of Denver. On October 1, 1999, Colorado’s three legal services programs, the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver, Pikes Peak/Arkansas River Legal Aid and Colorado Rural Legal Services, merged and adopted the overall corporate name of “Colorado Legal Services.” CLS is a non-profit agency funded by the Legal Services Corporation pursuant to 45 C.F.R. § 1600, et seq. CLS specializes in providing free legal services in civil matters to indigent clients throughout the State of Colorado. CLS has fifteen offices in Colorado including Alamosa, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins, Frisco, Grand Junction, Greeley, Gunnison, Hayden, La Junta, Leadville, Pueblo and Salida. 7. Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. is a Texas corporation, which was formed by the merger of Legal Aid of Central Texas, Bexar County Legal Services, Coastal Bend Legal Services, El Paso Legal Aid Society, and Texas Rural Legal Aid, all of which are or were at the time of existence funded by the Legal Services Corporation pursuant to 45 C.F.R. § 1600, et seq. TRLA is a non-profit agency that specializes in providing free civil legal services to the indigent residents of Central, South and West Texas. TRLA has thirteen offices in Texas including 3 ny-795068
  4. 4. Weslaco, Austin, El Paso, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Harlingen, Edinburg, Laredo, Sinton, and Victoria. II. Defendants A. The Entity Defendants1 8. Upon information and belief, Legal Aid National Services, Inc. (d/b/a The LANS Corp., and/or Legal Aid Housing Development) is a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of Colorado, with a principal place of business at 2600 South Parker Road, Building 5, Suite 359, Aurora, Colorado 80014 (formerly 3801 East Florida Avenue, Suite 400, Denver, Colorado 80210,2 191 University Boulevard, Suite 251, Denver, Colorado 80209, and 600 17th Street, Suite 2800, Denver, Colorado 82020) and a registered agent’s address at 875 S. Colorado Boulevard, Suite 672, Denver, Colorado 80246. White is the registered agent for LANS. 9. Upon information and belief, Ed Brown Management, Inc. (a/k/a Brown Management) is a Colorado corporation, with a principal place of business at 3801 East Florida Avenue, Suite 400, Denver, Colorado 80209 and a registered agent’s address at the same location. White is the registered agent for Ed Brown Management, Inc. In addition to its connection to the provision of legal services, Ed Brown Management, Inc. reportedly represents recording artists such as Rai (www.raiplace.com), Bone Daddy (www.bonedaddyrocks.com), and LaTonya Peoples (www.myspace.com/latonyapeoples). 1 A chart with information regarding the fourteen entity defendants is attached for the Court’s convenience as Exhibit S. 2 This address appears to be a shared office suite offered by Wallstreet Executive Suites (http://www.suiteplace.com), which advertises “Full Service Office Space Leasing and Virtual Offices . . . ‘the image of a fortune 500 company for less than you’d pay a receptionist.’” 4 ny-795068
  5. 5. 10. Upon information and belief, Legal Aid Service/Brownmgmt Inc. is a Colorado corporation with a principal place of business at 8100 W. Crestline Drive, Littleton, Colorado 80123, a registered agent’s street address at 8100 W. Crestline Drive, Littleton, Colorado 80123 and a registered agent’s mailing address at P.O. Box 620158, Littleton, Colorado 80162. Brown is the registered agent for Legal Aid Service/Brownmgmt Inc. 11. Upon information and belief, Legal Aid National Paralegal Services Division, Inc. (d/b/a Legal Aid National Paralegal Services Divisions, Inc.) is a Colorado corporation, with a principal place of business at 3333 E. Bayaud Avenue, Suite 618, Denver, Colorado 80209 and a registered agent’s address at the same location. Fareeda Afra Suliaman is the registered agent for Legal Aid Paralegal Services Division, Inc. At a hearing before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado held on May 17, 2006, Brown testified that he lived at this address and that LANS paid the rent. 12. Upon information and belief, Legal Aid Low Cost Services Inc. is a Colorado corporation with a principal place of business at 8100 Crestline Avenue, Littleton, Colorado 80123 and a registered agent’s address at the same location. White is the registered agent for Legal Aid Low Cost Services, Inc. 13. Upon information and belief, Legal Aide Divorce Services, Inc. is a Colorado corporation with a principal place of business at 3801 E. Florida Avenue, Suite 400, Denver, Colorado 80210 and a registered agent’s address at 10089 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 89109, Lone Tree, Colorado 80124. Eric Jones (a known alias of White) is the registered agent for Legal Aide Divorce Services, Inc. 14. Upon information and belief, Legal Aide Inc. is a Colorado corporation with a principal place of business at 10089 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 89109, Lone Tree, Colorado 5 ny-795068
  6. 6. 80124 and a registered agent’s address at the same location. Sandra Forbs is the registered agent for Legal Aide Inc. 15. Upon information and belief, Legal Support Services Corp. (d/b/a Legal Aid Support Services, Inc.) is a Colorado corporation with a principal place of business at 3801 E. Florida Avenue, Suite 400, Denver, Colorado 80210 and a registered agent’s address at 875 S. Colorado Boulevard, Suite 672, Denver, Colorado 80246. White is the registered agent for Legal Support Services Corp. 16. Upon information and belief, P.I. International, Corp. is a Colorado corporation with a principal place of business at 3801 E. Florida Avenue, Suite 400, Denver, Colorado 80210 and a registered agent’s address at 875 S. Colorado Boulevard, Suite 672, Denver, Colorado 80246. White is the registered agent for P.I. International, Corp. 17. Upon information and belief, US Chapter 7 & 13 Inc. is a Colorado corporation with a principal place of business at 8100 Crestline Drive, Suite 225 Littleton, Colorado 80123 and a registered agent’s address at the same location. Brown is the registered agent for US Chapter 7 & 13 Inc. 18. Upon information and belief, Legal Aid Services LLC is a Colorado limited liability company with a principal place of business at 6207 La Plata Peak Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80923 and a registered agent’s address at the same location. Bridgette DuCote Kaczmarek is the registered agent for Legal Aid Services, LLC. Kaczmarek was a bankruptcy lawyer in Louisiana, who recently moved to Colorado. For a period of time, Kaczmarek was reportedly employed by LANS. On September 28, 2007, Kaczmarek claims to have resigned her position with LANS. In an October 24, 2007 submission to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado regarding her dealings with LANS, 6 ny-795068
  7. 7. Kaczmarek commented that she “had encountered con artist[s], phonies, and all sorts of horrible people, the true dregs of society” and that she “had worked in a pool hall in New Orleans throughout college and never came into contact with such despicable . . . lowlifes as she has since her relocation to Colorado.” 19. Upon information and belief, National Document Preparation Services, Inc. (d/b/a www.nationaldocumentservice.com) is an unincorporated association with a principal place of business at 3333 E. Bayaud Avenue, Suite 618, Denver, Colorado 80209. 20. Upon information and belief, National Paralegal Services, Inc. (d/b/a www.legalfiling.net) is an unincorporated association with a principal place of business at 8100 W. Crestline Avenue, Littleton, Colorado 80123. 21. Upon information and belief, Legal Aid Network, Inc. (d/b/a www.legalfiling.net) is an unincorporated association with a principal place of business at P.O. Box 620158, Littleton, Colorado 80162. B. The Individual Defendants3 22. Upon information and belief, Kendrick Brown (a/k/a Kendrick White, a/k/a Eugene Wilson, a/k/a Eugene White, a/k/a Pendrick White, a/k/a Willie Williams, a/k/a Scott Johnson, a/k/a Keith Jackson, a/k/a Paul Mitchel, a/k/a Woody Mitchell, a/k/a Eric Jones) is an individual residing at 10087 Park Meadows Drive, Apt. 106, Lone Tree Colorado 80124. White is reportedly the Chief Executive Officer and a director of LANS. White is reportedly a convicted felon and has previously been incarcerated in both Florida and California. 3 A chart with information regarding the sixteen individual defendants is attached for the Court’s convenience as Exhibit T. 7 ny-795068
  8. 8. 23. Upon information and belief, Derrich Edward Brown (a/k/a Derrick Brown, a/k/a John Brown, a/k/a John Tharpe, a/k/a Edward Brown, a/k/a Ytricia Edward, a/k/a Michael Willy, a/k/a James Z. Pointer, d/b/a National Document Service Filing) is an individual residing at 10075 Park Meadows Drive, Apt. 103, Lone Tree Colorado 80124. Brown and White are brothers. Brown is reportedly a convicted felon. 24. Upon information and belief, Jasmine Ewing White (f/k/a Darika Sharae Ewing) is an individual residing at 80000 W. Badura Avenue, Apt. 1168, Las Vegas, Nevada 89113. Jasmine Ewing White is married to White. Jasmine Ewing White participated in all aspects of the operation of LANS. 25. Upon information and belief, Michael Kelley is an individual residing at 3333 E. Bayaud Avenue, Suite 618, Denver, Colorado 80209. Kelley is reportedly a principal at LANS. 26. Upon information and belief, Raymond Ashley a/k/a Stephen Jones is an individual residing at 411 South Virgil Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90020. Ashley is reportedly a principal at LANS. Ashley is affiliated with Legal Aid Service a/k/a Legal Aid Network, 269 South Beverly Drive, Suite 3300, Beverly Hills, California 90212-3807. 27. Upon information and belief, Andrew E. Evans, Jr. is an individual residing at 975 Lima Street, Aurora, Colorado 80010. Evans was involved in the incorporation of Legal Support Services Corp. 28. Upon information and belief, Mark Steven Mead is an individual currently in custody at Fremont Correctional Facility (FCF), Canon City, Colorado 81215-0999. At the relevant time, Mead was reportedly the Attorney Division Manager at LANS. Although he reportedly held himself out as an attorney, Mead is not a licensed attorney. Mead is reportedly a convicted felon. 8 ny-795068
  9. 9. 29. Upon information and belief, Michelle “Miki” Minzer is an individual residing in Colorado. At the relevant time, Minzer was reportedly Corporate Counsel at LANS. Minzer is associated with Minzer & Frazer, PC, Attorneys at Law, 936 E. 18th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80218. 30. Upon information and belief, Thomas Mathiowetz is an individual residing in Colorado. At the relevant time, Mathiowetz was reportedly Manager of the Bankruptcy Division at LANS. Mathiowetz is associated with Thomas M. Mathiowetz, P.C., 3801 E. Florida Avenue, Suite 400, Denver, Colorado 80210, which is also the address of the principal place of business of LANS. Mathiowetz was involved in the formation of LANS. 31. Upon information and belief, Carmen Jones is an individual residing in Colorado. Carmen Jones is reportedly an officer and a director of LANS. Carmen Jones may be a fictitious name or an alias of one of the Defendants. 32. Upon information and belief, Keith Tharpe is an individual residing in Colorado. Keith Tharpe is reportedly the Chief Financial Officer and a director of LANS. Keith Tharpe may be a fictitious name or an alias of one of the Defendants. 33. Upon information and belief, Elizabeth Forbes is an individual residing in Colorado. Elizabeth Forbes is reportedly the Vice President of Operations and a director of LANS. Elizabeth Forbes may be a fictitious name or an alias of one of the Defendants. 34. Upon information and belief, Carmella Jones is an individual residing in Colorado. Carmella Jones is reportedly the Vice President of Customer Service and a director of LANS. Carmella Jones may be a fictitious name or an alias of one of the Defendants. 9 ny-795068
  10. 10. 35. Upon information and belief, Sandra Brown is an individual residing in Colorado. Sandra Brown is reportedly the Vice President of Customer Service and a director of LANS. Sandra Brown may be a fictitious name or an alias of one of the Defendants. 36. Upon information and belief, Gail Hurry (a/k/a T. Hurry) is an individual residing in Colorado. Gail Hurry is reportedly the Managing Partner of National Document Preparation Services, Inc. Gail Hurry may be a fictitious name or an alias of one of the Defendants. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS I. Defendants Are Engaged in a Nationwide Enterprise Designed to Defraud Consumers. 37. For more than a decade, Defendants have engaged in various schemes by which they fraudulently induced consumers looking for legal representation to retain their services by using variations of the well-known and trusted “Legal Aid” designation. 38. Each of the fifty states has at least one “Legal Aid” program that is funded in part through the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”), a corporation that administers federal funding to these programs. 39. All legitimate “Legal Aid” programs, including the Plaintiffs, that receive Legal Services Corporation funds must adhere to the same federal regulations. 40. These regulations include the requirements that “Legal Aid” programs must provide services free of charge to eligible clients and are prohibited from receiving fees for those services pursuant to the restrictions placed on them by LSC regulations. 45 C.F.R. § 1600, et seq. (2007) 41. Defendants are not legitimate “Legal Aid” programs in compliance with these regulations. 10 ny-795068
  11. 11. 42. Before moving the nerve center of their operation to Colorado, Defendants Brown and White had been operating out of: (1) California under such names as: Legal Aid Services, (a/k/a Legal Aide Services, a/k/a Legal Aid Services of America, a/k/a Worldwide Legal Aid Services) 2331 D- 2 East Avenue S., Suite 264, Palmdale, California 93550, 44847 N. 10th Street W., Suite 2, Lancaster, California 93534, and 641 West J, #153, Lancaster, California 93534; (2) Florida under such names as: (a) Legal Aide Paralegal Services, Inc. (d/b/a LAPS) (formed June 2, 1997), 4632 Forest Hill Boulevard, Suite 357, West Palm Beach, Florida 33415; (b) Legal Aide U.S.A., Inc. (formed August 28, 1998), 13833 Wellington Trace, E4-103, Wellington, Florida 33414; and (c) Legal Aid Self Help Center, Inc. (formed May 17, 1999), 6999-02 Merrill Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32277; and (3) Nevada under such names as: (a) Legal Aide State Services, Inc. (formed April 30, 2003), 8000 W. Spring Mountain Road, Suite 1080, Las Vegas, Nevada 89117 and 8665 W. Flamingo Road, Suite 2000, Las Vegas, Nevada 89147 and (b) Legal Aid Affordable Services Inc. (formed February 14, 2005), 4040 W. Pioneer Avenue, Suite 208, Las Vegas, Nevada 89102. 43. Defendants Brown and White are brothers who together, with others, and separately defraud consumers using various corporate entities posing as legal service providers. 44. Defendants’ scheme to defraud is relatively simple; they target consumers who are in dire need of legal assistance, have limited financial means, and are relatively unsophisticated. They induce those consumers to engage Defendants under the misrepresentation that Defendants are legitimate “Legal Aid” organizations, confuse those consumers with changing terms, names, and phone numbers, collect large fees for simple services, render inadequate or incomplete services (if they render services at all), and then make it nearly impossible for those consumers to reach Defendants after the fraud has occurred. 11 ny-795068
  12. 12. 45. Defendants purport to offer paralegal services through LANS’s “paralegal division” in all states except Alaska. Defendants purport to offer attorney services through LANS’s “attorney division” in the following twenty seven states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. 46. Defendants use several methods to defraud consumers. 47. Defendants maintain local telephone numbers in various jurisdictions, as well as national toll free numbers and advertise their services in telephone directories under variations of the well-known and trusted “Legal Aid” designation to induce customers to contact them thinking that Defendants are offering free legal services, as legitimate “Legal Aid” organizations traditionally do. (Ex. A). 48. Defendants also operate several internet websites designed to induce consumers to retain their services, again under the false assumption that Defendants are operating a legitimate “Legal Aid” organization. These websites include but are not limited to; www.thelanscorp.com, www.legalfiling.net, www.brownmgmt.com, www.legalaideusa.com, www.nationaldocumentservice.com, and www.legalaidenationalservices.com. (Ex. B). 49. Defendants also advertise on public websites, such as on www.craigslist.com, and hold themselves out as providers of legal services under variations of the well-known and trusted “Legal Aid” designation. (Ex. C). 50. Defendants give the false and confusing impression that Defendants are or are in some way affiliated with legitimate “Legal Aid” organizations, the common provider of free legal services in their respective communities. 12 ny-795068
  13. 13. 51. Defendants explicitly offer various legal services that Defendants are unable and unauthorized to provide. 52. Defendant LANS is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization. Defendants improperly use this status to fraudulently convince consumers that Defendants are indeed legitimate “Legal Aid” charitable organizations or affiliated with such organizations. To further the misrepresentation that LANS is a philanthropic organization, Defendants solicit “donations” on LANS’s internet website, even providing the option of making a “donation” by credit card. 53. Communication between consumers and Defendants are principally via telephone, fax, and e-mail. 54. Defendants specifically target consumers who have limited financial means, are relatively unsophisticated, and in many cases do not speak English. By targeting these consumers, Defendants are able to confuse them as to the source of the purported services and as to what services are actually being rendered. 55. After receiving payment from defrauded consumers, Defendants are unresponsive to those consumers. 56. Once in contact with the consumers, Defendants provide fake names, aliases, and constantly change their statements regarding the services to be rendered and the cost of those services. 57. When Defendants provide legal paperwork to consumers, the paperwork is typically inadequate and routinely rejected by the courts. 13 ny-795068
  14. 14. 58. Defendants often complete the wrong paperwork for consumers, prolonging the time it takes for the consumers to get services, if they receive any services at all, and at great cost to the consumers. 59. Once in contact with consumers, Defendants inform those consumers that they will be represented by an attorney. Nonetheless, typically, when the consumers are given paperwork to complete, they are deceptively required to sign away their rights to be represented by an attorney. 60. Once in contact with consumers, Defendants require those consumers to pay significant amounts of money for “filing fees.” Generally, Defendants do not explain to the consumers what these fees are for. Defendants instruct consumers to send money only by MoneyGram, but sometimes accept cashiers checks or debit card payments. 61. As a result of the fraud by Defendants, consumers often lose significant amounts of money and do not get the legal representation and relief that they require. 62. Defendants have been engaged in the foregoing practices for more than a decade and continually recreate themselves and their fraudulent businesses in an attempt to defraud and confuse more consumers. 63. By all accounts, Defendants’ enterprise is extremely lucrative. In papers filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado, witnesses claimed that White alone expected to earn $1.7 million in 2007 from Defendants’ fraudulent businesses. II. Defendants Have Repeatedly Ignored Court Orders Enjoining Them from the Unauthorized Practice of Law. 64. Since at least 1995, and up to and including the present time, Defendants have repeatedly ignored court orders, injunctions, sanctions, and fines imposed in connection with their unauthorized practice of law. 14 ny-795068
  15. 15. A. Colorado v. Brown, Nos. 04UPL034, 05SA156 (Colo. S. Ct.) 65. On November 14, 2005, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an order enjoining Defendants Brown and Legal Aid Service/Brownmgmt Inc. from the unauthorized practice of law. (Ex. D). Although the Assistant Attorney Regulation Counsel reportedly certified that Brown was served with the Order on January 4, 2006, Brown testified at a May 17, 2006 hearing before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado that he does not recall the Order. 66. The injunction from the Colorado Supreme Court was issued as a result of a petition by the Assistant Attorney Regulation Counsel after an investigation revealed that Brown and Legal Aid Service/Brownmgmt Inc. had solicited legal work, accepted a retainer from a “client,” and otherwise falsely held themselves out as providers of legal services. (Ex. E). In communications with consumers, Brown and Legal Aid Service/Brownmgmt Inc. deceptively held themselves out as “a network of trained, qualified paralegals and pro bono attorneys.” (Id.) The Colorado Supreme Court enjoined Brown and Legal Aid Service/Brownmgmt Inc. from any further unauthorized practice of law. Brown has ignored that Order. B. In re Duran, No. 05-27650-SBB (Bankr. D. Colo.) 67. On December 21, 2007, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado issued an order enjoining Defendants Brown and Legal Aid Network from aiding or assisting in any bankruptcy or bankruptcy petition in front of that court. (Ex. F). The Court further enjoined Brown and his related entities from “utilizing in any manner whatsoever any trade name, legal name, trademark, service mark, or other form of identification which uses the terms ‘legal’ or ‘law’ or any similar term.” 15 ny-795068
  16. 16. 68. Defendant Legal Aid Network Inc., through Brown, attempted to represent a bankruptcy petitioner before the court. After the Bankruptcy Court rejected the paperwork prepared by Brown and Legal Aid Network Inc., the bankruptcy petitioner informed the court that he had paid nearly $300 to “Legal Aid,” but the papers they sent to him were inadequate and rejected by the court. At a hearing on January 17, 2006, the defrauded bankruptcy petitioner testified “I wish it wouldn’t have come this far, but I pay my money up front . . . to do paperwork for me, and they never did. And when I tried to get in contact with them, they wouldn’t even speak to me anymore. So then I decided I’d just come to you . . . .” 69. After an investigation by the United States Trustee for the District of Colorado, and days of hearings before the court, the Honorable Sidney B. Brooks concluded that those parties before him had held themselves out as bankruptcy lawyers and/or preparers although they were not. 70. Following multiple days of testimony, Judge Brooks strongly questioned both Brown and White’s credibility. With respect to Brown, Judge Brooks noted that it “has been demonstrated in the past and I’ve made findings that he has no credibility with this Court.” With respect to White, Judge Brooks noted that his “testimony has come across to me as not being 100 percent accurate and true. . . . Mr. Brown and you have done business. And Mr. Brown and you have had a connection. And you denied it, unqualifiably, completely and without reservation before [the United States Trustee] pointed it out to you.” 71. Moreover, two former employees of LANS, Dorothy Hoffman and Jeannette Cote, testified that White threatened them with a sham lawsuit to prevent them from cooperating with the United States Trustee. Hoffman and Cote testified that as they were 16 ny-795068
  17. 17. attending a day of testimony in the proceedings before Judge Brooks, they were served with a complaint in the hallway. In the complaint, LANS alleged that they breached a confidentiality agreement by discussing LANS with “third parties,” an obvious reference to their cooperation with the United States Trustee. In fact, the complaint had never been filed with any court. Judge Brooks found that “this Complaint was never filed with the City and County of Denver District Court, as it would appear, but was sent as a means to harass or otherwise intimidate Ms. Cote and Ms. Hoffman. . . . It is quite clear that this was a cynical and brazen attempt to intimidate Ms. Cote and Ms. Hoffman.” (Ex. F at 2 n.2). 72. Although White denied that he or LANS had any business dealings with his brother Brown, Judge Brooks found that “the testimony of other former employees or individuals connected to Messrs. Brown and White and/or LANS provides strong and compelling evidence of interlocking relationships, business, and activities among the three, and a pattern of unmistakable links despite efforts to mask, evade or obfuscate such links among the three.” (Ex. F at 3). 73. With respect to the services purportedly provided by LANS, Judge Brooks found that “the primary function of the Denver office of LANS was sales not services, legal or otherwise. The paperwork from LANS’s ‘Paralegal Division,’ when prepared at all, was prepared through a subcontractor in India, was of poor quality, was never corrected, was neither accurate nor complete, and based upon LANS’s ex-employee’s testimony, these papers were often unusable by the customer.” (Ex. F at 6). 74. After more than a year of hearings, motions, and investigation, Judge Brooks sanctioned Brown and Legal Aid Network, who were directly involved in the filing of the debtor’s petition before Judge Brooks. Although Judge Brooks found that White and LANS 17 ny-795068
  18. 18. were also engaged in misconduct, he found that the court did “not have jurisdiction over those issues under applicable non-bankruptcy law.” (Ex. F at 4). With apparent frustration, Judge Brooks noted “[t]he Court is left with few remedies to address the panoply of misconduct and deceit by Mr. Brown, Mr. White, LANS and their affiliates. The Court’s limited bankruptcy jurisdiction does not permit it to further investigate or pursue remedies associated with this fraudulent conduct, which is sometimes part of, but not always or necessarily, related to bankruptcy.” (Ex. F at 8). C. In re Davis, No. 06-10736-ELF (Bankr. E.D. Pa.) 75. On September 13, 2006, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, pursuant to a stipulation and order, fined Defendants Brown and Legal Aid Network, Inc. and enjoined them from acting as bankruptcy preparers or engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in any federal judicial district. (Ex. G). The Stipulation and Order was issued in connection with the United States Trustee’s Motion for Disgorgement of Fees and for the Imposition of Fines against Stephen Jones and/or Legal Aid Network, which was filed on May 11, 2006. On June 14, 2006, Defendant Brown filed a response to the motion arguing that “Legal Aid Network was simply a referral service that referred individuals to independent contractors who then prepared the individuals’ bankruptcy petitions.” (Ex. H). In the response, Brown represented to the Bankruptcy Court that “Legal Aid Network . . . will agree to no longer prepare bankruptcy petitions in this jurisdiction, or any other jurisdiction.” (Id.) D. Trustee v. Brown, Adv. No. 05-80139-W (Bankr. D.S.C.) 76. On August 29, 2005, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina issued an order imposing injunctive relief, fines, and requiring the disgorgement of fees from Brown (d/b/a www.legalfiling.net, Legal Aid Service, Legal Aid 18 ny-795068
  19. 19. Network, and Brown Management). The court found that the “advice and assistance provided to the debtor by the defendant constitute the unauthorized practice of law in the District of South Carolina.” (Ex. I). The court issued an injunction prohibiting Brown from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, fined him $4,500, and prohibited him from participating in any way with the preparation of bankruptcy documents in any federal judicial district. E. In re Ms Rainbow, No. 03-16053-EEB (Bankr. D. Colo.) 77. On September 10, 2003, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado ordered Brown (d/b/a Legal Aid Services) to disgorge fees associated with the filing of a bankruptcy case for a debtor. (Ex. J). The court further ordered the parties to appear and show cause within fifteen days why the court should not enter further orders enjoining them from performing bankruptcy preparation services and referring the case to United States Attorney for further investigation of the violation of criminal or civil statutes. The record reflects that Brown did not respond to the order to show cause. F. In re Cozad, No. 03-15425-HRT (Bankr. D. Colo.) 78. On August 11, 2003, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado ordered Brown to appear and show cause within fifteen days why the court should not enter further orders enjoining him from performing bankruptcy preparation services and referring the case to United States Attorney for further investigation of the violation of criminal or civil statutes. (Ex. K). The record reflects that Brown did not respond to the order to show cause. G. Tennessee v. White, No. 99-2625 (Tenn. Chancery Ct.) 79. On September 16, 1999, White, on behalf of himself and Legal Aide Paralegal Services, Inc., signed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the Tennessee Attorney 19 ny-795068
  20. 20. General prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law in Tennessee. (Ex. L). The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance was entered into after an investigation by the Tennessee Attorney General and the Division of Consumer affairs of the Department of Commerce and Insurance of Tennessee revealed that Defendants White and Legal Aide Paralegal Services, Inc. had violated the Tennessee unauthorized practice of law statute. Specifically, the defendants in that action had advertised as “legal” or “attorney” in phone books and on the internet, agreed to perform legal services for Tennessee citizens, accepted payment for those services, and offered to prepare legal documents for consumers despite the fact that none of the defendants in that action were licensed to practice in Tennessee. The Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee issued an order adopting the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance on September 17, 1999. (Ex. M). White, through LANS, currently holds himself out as offering legal services in Tennessee in direct contravention of the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance and the Agreed Order. H. Brokenbrough v. Legal Aide Services, Adv. No. 95-274 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio) 80. On June 6, 1996, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio entered an order granting a motion for a default judgment and assessing penalties against White (d/b/a Legal Aid Services, Legal Aide Services, and Legal Aid Services of America) for violations of Section 110 of the Bankruptcy Code and for the unauthorized practice of law. (Ex. N). Due to White’s mishandling of a bankruptcy petitioner’s claim, the debtor nearly lost her home and incurred significant expense and time rectifying White’s errors. The court found that White had prepared the bankruptcy petitioner’s papers in direct contravention of the orders of several other bankruptcy courts. The court found that White violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act “by using the term ‘Legal Aid’ in a way that is likely to cause confusion and misunderstanding as to whether Defendants are a Legal 20 ny-795068
  21. 21. Services program such as the Legal Aid Society of Dayton.” The court enjoined White and his organizations from the unauthorized practice of law and required them to pay monetary damages. I. In re Hernandez, No. 95-51477-RBK (Bankr. W.D. Tex.) 81. On June 15, 1995, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas enjoined Legal Aide Services (an organization operated by Brown), Scott Johnson (a known alias of White), and any parties acting in concert with them from engaging in the conduct of bankruptcy preparers and fined the individual and organization for their conduct in relation to the preparation a debtor’s bankruptcy paperwork. (Ex. O). J. In re Parks, No. 95-1-0853-PM (Bankr. D. Md.) 82. On June 12, 1995, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland imposed a $1,500 fine against Legal Aide Services (an organization operated by Brown), Keith Jackson (a known alias of White), and Tracy Russell and ordered them to turn over all fees received from the bankruptcy petitioner. (Ex. P). At a hearing before the court, the bankruptcy petitioner testified that he recalled that Keith Jackson (a known alias of White) had held himself out as an attorney, which he is not. The court certified the facts for review by the United States District Court. (Ex. Q). K. In re Lackey, No. 95-10453-FM (Bankr. W.D. Tex.) 83. On May 15, 1995, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas enjoined Legal Aide Services (an organization operated by Brown) from engaging in the conduct of bankruptcy preparers and fined the organization for their conduct in relation to the preparation a debtor’s bankruptcy paperwork. (Ex. R). The court found that Legal Aide Services had rendered “services of no value” and “engage[d] in fraudulent and deceptive behavior in the handling of [the] bankruptcy petition.” 21 ny-795068
  22. 22. L. Trustee v. Legal Aid Services, Adv. No. 95-159-DAS (Bankr. E.D. Pa.) 84. On May 11, 1995, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered a decision and order imposing a $3,000 fine against Legal Aid Services (an organization run by Brown) and its principals Tracy Russell, Keith Jackson (a known alias of White), and Scott Johnson (another known alias of White), and enjoining them from acting as a bankruptcy preparer in any jurisdiction unless they petition a particular court for permission to do so. In re Gavin, 181 B.R. 814, 815 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 1995). 85. The adversary proceedings arose out of two underlying bankruptcy actions, in each of which the petitioner was defrauded by Legal Aid Services. The bankruptcy petitioner in one of the underlying bankruptcy cases (In re Gavin) had been advised by a private law firm that she and her husband should contact “legal aid” for assistance, obviously intending to refer them to a legitimate “Legal Aid” organization. The petitioner contacted Legal Aid Services believing that it was a legitimate “Legal Aid” organization. The bankruptcy petitioner dealt with Keith Jackson (a known alias of White). The bankruptcy petitioner in the other underlying bankruptcy case (In re Fulginiti) had dealt with Scott Johnson (another known alias of White). Both petitioners received worthless services. 86. The court heard testimony from an employee of Legal Aid Services, Patricia Smith. Smith, who the court found credible, described the methods by which Defendants Brown and White defrauded their “customers.” The customers would call a number and speak with an employee who represented himself as an attorney. That employee would in turn set up an appointment between the debtor and an unqualified employee who had no training in law, bankruptcy, or anything else. The employee would collect whatever information the debtor had been instructed to bring as well as payment. Based on this 22 ny-795068
  23. 23. exchange, paperwork would be filled out and returned to the debtor to file as a pro se petitioner. The court found that “the services provided by LAS to the Debtors were of extremely poor quality and constituted the unauthorized practice of law.” III. Defendants Are Continuing to Actively Defraud Consumers. 87. The following are just some examples of individuals who have been defrauded by Defendants: A. Simone Jones 88. In or around May 2007, Simone Jones (“Jones”) sought legal assistance in obtaining spousal support from her husband who resides in Illinois. 89. Jones went to LANS’ offices in Denver and requested an attorney to assist her in connection with her divorce. Representatives of LANS required Jones to pay $475.00 and complete a questionnaire prior to completing any paperwork or taking any action on Jones’ behalf. Jones completed all required questionnaires and paid the $475.00 fee. 90. LANS failed to file or serve any of the divorce or support documents for Jones. As a result, Jones’ husband was able to file and receive a decree from an Illinois court. 91. Despite LANS’ failure to assist Jones, LANS refused to refund any of Jones’ $475.00 payment. B. Kathy DeLaRiva 92. In or around March 2006, Kathy DeLaRiva (“DeLaRiva”) sought legal assistance in obtaining a divorce. 93. DeLaRiva called directory assistance (“411”) seeking “Legal Aid.” Instead of receiving a number for CLS, DeLaRiva was given a local number which connected her to LANS. 23 ny-795068
  24. 24. 94. DeLaRiva contacted LANS to help her obtain her divorce. LANS required her to pay more than $500.00 prior to completing any paperwork or taking any action on DeLaRiva’s behalf. 95. Despite providing incomplete and erroneous paperwork, LANS refused to refund any of DeLaRiva’s payment. DeLaRiva ultimately qualified for assistance from CLS under CLS’ financial guidelines and CLS assisted DeLaRiva with her divorce. C. Karen Harris 96. In or around February 2007, Karen Harris (“Harris”), as result of her husband’s illness and inability to work, fell behind on her mortgage. 97. Harris sought help from an attorney on possible bankruptcy and foreclosure advice, and found LANS through the Yellow Pages. Harris spoke with an attorney listed as Mike Walker, who said he could help Harris. 98. In early July 2007, Harris obtained an appointment with Mr. Walker at LANS to discuss bankruptcy and avoiding foreclosure on her home. Once there, the LANS receptionist informed Harris that Mike Walker no longer worked at LANS. Harris instead met with Defendant Mathiowetz. 99. Defendant Mathiowetz explained Chapter 7 bankruptcy to Harris, and put Harris in contact with LANS’ financial office to discuss payment. 100. LANS required payment of $800.00 from Harris for representation in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. Harris did not have the required $800.00, but began making installment payments. Over the next several months, Harris ultimately paid LANS a total of $748.00, yet LANS did not prepare or file any bankruptcy documents or provide services of any kind for Harris. 24 ny-795068
  25. 25. 101. Harris met with Mathiowetz again in August 2007. At this time Mathiowetz requested a $30.00 “retaining fee” and directed Harris to complete documentation for the bankruptcy proceedings. 102. In October 2007, Harris was notified by LANS that her case had been transferred to a David Paul Smith. Mr. Smith agreed to represent Harris in connection with her bankruptcy. After hearing nothing for the next month, Harris again contacted Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith notified Harris that he had not been paid by LANS so his “hands were tied.” 103. Despite repeated requests by Harris to either refund or transfer the deposits paid to Mr. Smith, LANS has continued to withhold Harris’ payments. As a result of LANS’ refusal to provide service or refund Ms. Harris’ payments, Harris now faces imminent foreclosure on her home. D. Kristy Matthijetz 104. In or around early December of 2007, Kristy Matthijetz (“Matthijetz”) was served with divorce papers by her husband’s family while he was in the hospital receiving treatment for a brain tumor. 105. Shortly after being served with papers, Matthijetz and her father began searching for legal representation for her divorce and custody proceeding. Matthijetz’s first scheduled court hearing on the matter was December 19, 2007. 106. After speaking with a number of local attorneys, Matthijetz and her father realized that they could not afford the prices quoted to them by private counsel and decided to call “Legal Aid.” 107. Matthijetz and her father believed that there was one “Legal Aid” organization that served their community and that this “Legal Aid” organization provided free and reliable legal services to the community. 25 ny-795068
  26. 26. 108. On or about December 18, 2007, Matthijetz called the number for “Legal Aid, Inc.” that her father found in the phone book, local number (512) 322-9676. The area (512) is a Travis county area code. 109. When Matthijetz called this number, the first thing she heard was an automated voice recording that stated “you have reached the Legal Aid Offices” before directing her call to a live person. 110. Based on this voice recording, Matthijetz believed that she had reached the legitimate “Legal Aid” organization servicing the Austin area of Texas. 111. Additionally, based on the fact that the company advertised itself as “Legal Aid, Inc,” Matthijetz believed that she had reached a legitimate “Legal Aid” organization servicing the Austin area of Texas. 112. Matthijetz was connected to a man who identified himself as “Mr. John” and explained to “Mr. John” that she needed legal representation for a court hearing the following day, December 18, 2007. 113. “Mr. John” represented to Matthijetz that she would need to send a $525.00 MoneyGram to “Ed Brown” in order to be appointed a lawyer for her proceeding and that because it was such short notice, the only lawyer available to assist her was “Ed Brown.” 114. “Mr. John” further told Matthijetz that she would need to wire the money as soon as possible because he would only be in the office for one more hour and he needed to be sure that she sent the money before he could help her. 115. On March 18, 2007, a Money Gram in the amount of $175.00 was sent on behalf of Matthijetz by Dan Leteff from a Wal-Mart store located in Austin, Texas. 26 ny-795068
  27. 27. 116. Because Matthijetz had to borrow money from two different sources, a few moments later, Matthijetz, herself, sent a MoneyGram in the amount of $350.00 to “Edward Brown” from a Supercenter, located in Georgetown, Texas. 117. The following day, Matthijetz arrived at the courthouse an hour early in order to meet with her lawyer and explain more details about her situation. 118. After waiting for someone to approach her, Matthijetz finally grew concerned and called “Mr. John” to ask where her lawyer was and what her lawyer looked like so that she could identify him before entering the courtroom. 119. “Mr. John” asked Matthijetz to hold. When he returned to the line, he told Matthijetz that he had “paged” her lawyer and had learned that there was a conflict. 120. “Mr. John” told Matthijetz that her lawyer, Mr. Ed Brown, had to make an appearance in another court and would not be able to attend her hearing. 121. Upon hearing Matthijetz’s panic at this news, “Mr. John” proceeded to advise Matthijetz what she should do during her hearing. 122. Matthijetz found it strange that “Mr. John” would advise her on how to handle a legal proceeding because she knew based on her conversation the previous day that he was not a lawyer, but because she was desperate, she listened to what he recommended. 123. “Mr. John’s” advice included, but was not limited to, recommending that Matthijetz tell the judge that “the lawyer you hired is stuck in another trial” and telling Matthijetz to ask the judge for a continuance. 124. Matthijetz attended her court hearing by herself with no understanding of what was occurring. 27 ny-795068
  28. 28. 125. During that December 19, 2007 court hearing, Matthijetz lost custody of her daughter for two weeks and did not understand why she was losing custody. 126. After her December 19, 2007 hearing, both Matthijetz and her father called “Mr. John” to complain. 127. For days, “Mr. John” did not answer or return their calls. 128. When Matthijetz finally made contact with “Mr. John” she expressed her anger about having sent $525.00 to “Edward Brown” even though “Edward Brown” did not represent her during her custody hearing. 129. “Mr. John” told Matthijetz that her “MoneyGram is here waiting for you to pick it up if you want it.” 130. Matthijetz declined to pick her MoneyGram up because, amongst other reasons, she believed that she was in touch with the only legitimate “Legal Aid” organization in her area and was frightened that she would “lose her lawyer” if she tried to get the money back. 131. Matthijetz told “Mr. John” that she would call him back when she received her next court date. 132. Shortly after this last conversation with “Mr. John,” Matthijetz was informed by a colleague that TRLA was accepting intakes from individuals who had complaints against fraudulent legal aids. 133. Matthijetz’s contact with TRLA regarding her complaint against Legal Aid, Inc. was her first contact with a legitimate “Legal Aid” organization. 134. Matthijetz is now being represented by TRLA on her divorce and custody matters. 135. Matthijetz has not received a refund of her $525.00 from Legal Aid, Inc., nor has she received anything of value in return. 28 ny-795068
  29. 29. E. Dinah Lea Roberts 136. On or about late March of 2007, Dinah Lea Roberts (“Roberts”) was served with divorce papers by her husband. 137. Following the service of papers, Roberts grew extremely depressed and unhappy. She was admitted to the state hospital in Kerrville, Texas. 138. Following her release from the hospital, Roberts was assigned a mental health counselor by the Office of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. 139. During one of her visits to her counselor’s office, Roberts expressed that she needed to seek representation in her divorce proceeding. 140. Roberts also expressed her confusion about how to get in touch with “Legal Aid,” as Texas Rural Legal Aid (now TRLA) had closed its Kerrville office. 141. Roberts’ counselor said that even though the Legal Aid office in Kerrville had closed their office, they still listed a toll free number in the phonebook and the Office of Mental Health and Mental Retardation had the phone number posted on their bulletin board. 142. Roberts first called the number she was given from her counselor’s office. 143. After Roberts got through the automated machine, she was connected to a man named “Howard James.” 144. Roberts first told “Howard James” her location and asked if she could meet with an attorney. 145. “Howard James” told Roberts that he would check and see if there were any attorneys available in her “area.” 146. Roberts was confused by “Howard James’” response and told him that she thought she had called the “Texas Legal Aid.” 147. “Howard James” told Roberts that “now we have offices all around the country.” 29 ny-795068
  30. 30. 148. Roberts then asked “Howard James” if he could help her find a lawyer who could help her in her divorce proceeding. Specifically, she asked him if they had lawyers who handled divorce proceedings. 149. “Howard James” answered this question affirmatively, but told her that until he knew more about her case, he could not tell her if she would need a paralegal or a lawyer to assist in her case. 150. Roberts proceeded to tell “Howard James” about her case, repeatedly asking him whether he thought that she needed a lawyer. 151. After Roberts finished describing her case, “Howard James” said that he believed that she would probably require a lawyer but that he could not say for sure until she sent him her paperwork and the “legal office” looked at her case. 152. “Howard James” also told Roberts that there would be a fee for their services and that there would “quite possibly” be an additional fee if she required a lawyer. 153. Roberts was extremely confused about why Legal Aid would charge her a fee for their services and she questioned “Howard James” at length about this. 154. Roberts explained to “Howard James” that she had absolutely no money, had just been released from the hospital and she was unemployed. 155. She told “Howard James” that she had believed that Legal Aid helped people who could not afford lawyers. 156. “Howard James” then told Roberts that “Legal Aid works on a lesser fee.” 157. “Howard James” led Roberts to believe that this fee structure was the way that all legitimate “Legal Aid” organizations work and this was because they needed to cover the cost of their “help,” including secretaries. 30 ny-795068
  31. 31. 158. Roberts told him that she would get him the money somehow and “Howard James” told her that someone would call her within a week. 159. Approximately three days after her initial conversation with “Howard James,” Roberts received a phone call from a “Chad Hart” who identified himself as someone who worked with “Howard James” at Legal Aid. 160. Roberts again explained that she needed assistance and again asked “Chad Hart” why they were charging her a fee for the services. 161. “Chad Hart” told Roberts, as “Howard James” had earlier in the week, that “Legal Aid” worked on a lesser fee. 162. “Chad Hart” told Roberts that he thought that $450.00 would cover “Legal Aid starting on the case.” 163. Because “Chad Hart” had told Roberts that he believed she would require a lawyer’s assistance, Roberts believed that the $450.00 that she was going to send to “Chad Hart” would secure her the assistance she needed in her case. 164. “Chad Hart” agreed to fax Roberts a contract that she needed to fill out and have notarized at her mental health counselor’s office. He also gave her an account number to which she should wire the $450.00. 165. “Chad Hart” asked Roberts to contact him as soon as she found the money and sent the wire of the fee. 166. Excited at the prospect of getting assistance, Roberts quickly filled out the forms and asked her counselor to return it to “Chad Hart” on her behalf. 167. Additionally, Roberts wired the “fee” within 48 hours. 31 ny-795068
  32. 32. 168. Roberts called “Chad Hart” back a few days later in order to get an update on her case. 169. When she called, “Chad Hart” seemed surprised and asked her if she had sent the wire. 170. Roberts confirmed that she had and asked “Chad Hart” why the “Legal Aid bank” would not notify Legal Aid when it received transfers of money. 171. “Chad Hart” told Roberts that “Legal Aid” had so many clients, they could not track who had sent their fee in and who had not. 172. Once “Chad Hart” confirmed that he had received Roberts’ fee, he told her that he could not do anything further for her because his job was only to do intakes. 173. “Chad Hart” told Roberts that “Amy Brown,” a paralegal, would be contacting Roberts once he transferred all of Roberts’ paperwork to the “legal office.” 174. An “Amy Brown” eventually contacted Roberts, but only a few days before the court date set for May 25, 2007. 175. Roberts expressed her concern about this and “Amy Brown” told Roberts that she needed to file a “motion to delay” and that “Amy Brown” would send the motion to her. 176. Roberts finally received the “Motion for Continuance” on May 29, 2007. 177. Roberts missed her court date because the papers did not reach her in time and she was afraid to go to court without any papers or a lawyer. 178. On May 29, 2007, Roberts called “Amy Brown” again and asked what to do. 179. “Amy Brown” told Roberts to take the motion to the courthouse and file it, even though the date of the court hearing had passed. 32 ny-795068
  33. 33. 180. Roberts took the motion to the courthouse, where it was rejected for being submitted late. 181. Terrified that she had lost her chance of an amenable divorce, Roberts called “Amy Brown” desperate for counsel. 182. Roberts begged “Amy Brown” to send someone to the courthouse to help her. 183. “Amy Brown” told Roberts that she was “99% sure” that if Roberts got a lawyer she would have to pay “Legal Aid” more money. 184. Dejected, Roberts hung up the phone. 185. Later that month, Roberts sought refuge from an abusive partner in a battered women’s shelter. 186. The battered women’s shelter had TRLA’s phone number and personal contacts at TRLA. They recommended that Roberts contact TRLA regarding her legal problems. 187. Roberts is now in touch with TRLA. Nonetheless, because of her financial and personal difficulties, she was forced to leave her home in Texas and is now residing with her mother in Pensacola, Florida. F. Hector Garcia 188. On or about early June of 2007, Hector Garcia (“Garcia”) attempted to find legal representation in bringing a divorce action against his wife. 189. Garcia first attempted to do everything on his own, believing that he would be able to do this by using internet sites that advertised themselves as “one stop” divorce assistance sites. 190. Garcia struggled to understand the complicated websites and decided that he needed additional assistance from a legal services organization. 33 ny-795068
  34. 34. 191. Garcia called Information (“411”) and asked for the phone number of “Legal Aid.” 192. The phone number that Garcia was given by the 411 operator for “Legal Aid” was “(303) 991-4671.” 193. The area code (303) is a Denver, Colorado area code. 194. Realizing that this was not a local number, Garcia asked to be connected automatically by the operator. 195. Garcia was first put through the answering service at this number and eventually spoke with a “Mary Frazier.” 196. Garcia asked “Mary Frazier” if he had correctly dialed “Legal Aid.” 197. When “Mary Frazier” told Garcia that he had called “Legal Aid,” Garcia mused that he was located in El Paso and was confused why he was directed to a non-local number. 198. “Mary Frazier” told Garcia that “Legal Aid” could handle cases anywhere because “Legal Aid” was a national organization. She also told Garcia that “Legal Aid” had its own paralegals and lawyers who would represent him no matter where he was located. 199. After listening to Garcia’s explanation of what he was seeking assistance with, “Mary Frazier” explained to Garcia that “Legal Aid” could get him his divorce in two or three weeks. She also said that if the divorce was contested it would cost him $400.00 and if the divorce was uncontested it would cost him $350.00. 200. Garcia was excited that his divorce would be such a painless process, particularly since he had struggled to understand the directions on the websites he had initially looked to for guidance. 34 ny-795068
  35. 35. 201. After exchanging a number of forms back and forth through facsimile, Garcia gave “Mary Frazier” authorization to charge his debit card for the preparation of his divorce papers on July 15, 2007. 202. A few weeks after this, Garcia received the “divorce papers” in the mail and found multiple mistakes, including typos and misspellings. 203. After calling “Mary Frazier” a number of times to complain, Garcia received what he was told was a “final” copy of the divorce papers. 204. Garcia attempted to file for divorce with the papers received from LANS, Corp. 205. Unaware that a Custody and Support Order was already entered in his case, Garcia paid an additional and unnecessary $243.00 to the El Paso County Courthouse as a filing fee for submission of his incorrectly prepared “divorce papers.” 206. Garcia’s final divorce decree was rejected on October 5, 2007 based on the fact that his submission was prepared incorrectly. 207. Disheartened, after his court date on October 5, 2007, Garcia approached a peace officer working in the Courthouse about the decision in his case. 208. After showing this officer his papers, the officer told Garcia that he was sure that the papers were not prepared by the Legal Aid in El Paso and gave Garcia the correct phone number for TRLA’s El Paso office so that he could contact them directly. 209. Garcia called the El Paso TRLA office and is being represented by them in his further proceedings. G. Michelle Alexander Ervin 210. Michelle Alexander Ervin (“Ervin”) is a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. 211. In 2003, Ervin had a son with Darrell Lynn Jones (“Jones”). 35 ny-795068
  36. 36. 212. Jones was later convicted of indecency with a child by exposure and required to register as a sex offender under Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. 213. After a prolonged period of anger and despair over what felt like an uncontrollable tragedy, Ervin “picked up her life” and moved on. 214. She married Terrell Gene Ervin, who has raised her son as if he were the child’s biological father. 215. In late August of 2007, Ervin’s husband decided that he would like to formally and legally adopt her son as his own. 216. Ervin also wanted to change her son’s name to reflect the adoption and to be able to finally move on with her life both in reality and legally. 217. After looking on the internet to find the correct procedure for an adoption, Ervin realized that she would require legal assistance with the process. 218. Ervin then looked in the yellow pages and found a local number for “Legal Aid” in San Antonio. 219. Ervin called this local phone number and spoke with an unknown woman who told Ervin that “the San Antonio Legal Aid did not do adoptions” but that Ervin could call the “national Legal Aid” for assistance. 220. The woman then told her to call a toll-free number that would connect her to the “national Legal Aid.” 221. When Ervin called this toll-free phone number, she spoke with a “Brenda” who took her basic information and then told her that it would cost $440.00 to complete the adoption and name change for her son. 36 ny-795068
  37. 37. 222. “Brenda” also told her that “Legal Aid” had paralegals who would do all the paperwork for the adoption and name change and all she needed from Ervin was for her to fill out a questionnaire. 223. Shortly after this call, on September 20, 2007, Ervin authorized the withdrawal of $300.00 from her account by the LANS Corp. to “get them started.” 224. Once “Brenda” had received the money, “Brenda” put Ervin in touch with a “Mark” at the LANS Corp., who sent a questionnaire to Ervin for her to fill out. 225. Ervin filled it out almost immediately upon receiving it and sent it back to “Mark” via facsimile. 226. She was told on various phone calls by both “Mark” and later by a “Chris” that the paralegals at the LANS Corp. would fill out and prepare all the necessary documents and that her only responsibility would be to file the papers with the local court. Ervin reassured both “Mark” and “Chris” that she understood what her role would be. 227. Ervin was also told that after filing the paperwork, she would have to notify someone at the LANS Corp. within 10 days that she had done so. Ervin also agreed to do this. 228. In or around late September or early October, after hearing nothing from any of the people that she had spoken with at the LANS Corp., Ervin finally reached “Mark” again. 229. “Mark” guaranteed Ervin that she would receive the proper paperwork for filing within 30 days. 230. On October 15, 2007, Ervin authorized the LANS Corp. to withdraw the additional $140.00 from her account believing that, as “Mark” represented to her, there were paralegals working on her son’s adoption paperwork. 37 ny-795068
  38. 38. 231. Despite numerous phone calls and messages, Ervin has not spoken to anyone at the LANS Corp. since she authorized this last payment of $140.00. 232. In fact, during one attempt to reach the LANS Corp., Ervin reached the “Legal Aid” answering service and was patched through to a live representative. However, the unknown woman told her that the number she had called was “now a doctor’s office.” 233. Throughout this entire process, Ervin believed that she was speaking with representatives of TRLA. H. Isela and Roberto Caldera 234. On or about July 1, 2007, Isela Caldera (“Caldera”) began actively seeking legal representation for her father, Roberto Caldera, in his attempts to legally adopt his granddaughter. 235. Caldera initiated the attempts to secure legal representation because her father does not speak any English and was uncomfortable seeking out assistance on his own. 236. Caldera herself is not particularly comfortable speaking English and feels much more comfortable conversing in Spanish. 237. Caldera found out about “Legal Aid” through her sister, who, years before, had gotten divorced for free with representation from the El Paso Legal Aid office. 238. Caldera decided to call Legal Aid on her father’s behalf. She first dialed Information (“411”) to find their phone number. She was given the local El Paso number, 591- 0230 by the 411 operator. 239. When she called this number, she was immediately connected to a voice recording that referred her to the phone number “1-866-417-7314” and stated that someone would help her when she called this toll-free phone number. 240. On or about July 2, 2007, Caldera called 1-866-417-7314 and spoke with a “David Durojave.” 38 ny-795068
  39. 39. 241. The first question “David Durojave” asked her was where she had gotten the “Legal Aid” phone number from, which Caldera thought was odd. 242. Additionally, “David Durojave” spoke only English and Caldera was forced to ask and answer his questions in English. 243. Caldera explained, as best she could, that she had called 411 because she had wanted to visit the El Paso Legal Aid office and speak with an attorney about her father’s situation. 244. “David Durojave” told Caldera that the El Paso “Legal Aid” offices were closed and that “Legal Aid” no longer accepted in-office applications. He told her that instead everything was now done by facsimile. 245. When Caldera—confused by how this could be true—told “David Durojave” that her sister had received a divorce through the Legal Aid in El Paso, “David Durojave” said that Texas “Legal Aid” offices had recently moved to Colorado and the Colorado offices now served as the “Legal Aid” for Texas and 12 other states. 246. Caldera believed “David Durojave” and so she explained to him that her father wanted to adopt his granddaughter because her sister had passed away in 2007. 247. Caldera explained that she had a letter from her deceased sister that stated she wanted to grant guardianship and custody of the child to Roberto Caldera, but that this was not enough to grant her father full, legal custody. 248. While “David Durojave” did not represent that he was a lawyer, Caldera believed that he was because she understood him to say that “everyone at legal aid is a lawyer” and that he would be “in charge” of her father’s case. 39 ny-795068
  40. 40. 249. “David Durojave” told Caldera that he would send her all of the necessary papers and that she needed to sign the papers in front of a notary and fax them back to him as soon as possible. 250. “David Durojave” repeatedly told her that there would be no problem for either her or her father and guaranteed that he would get custody for her father without either Caldera or her father physically going to court. 251. “David Durojave” represented to Caldera that he would file the documents for them. 252. “David Durojave” initially told Caldera that his services would cost $500.00. 253. At this point, Caldera again questioned “David Durojave” because her sister had received her divorce for free and the entire process had taken less than six months. 254. “David Durojave” told Caldera that “Legal Aid” was no longer free and now there was a “percentage fee.” 255. “David Durojave” then told Caldera that “Legal Aid” could do the adoption for a reduced rate of $415.00. 256. Caldera, believing that she had no other option, gave “David Durojave” her check card number and $415.00 was withdrawn from her account on July 5, 2007 by “Legal Aide Divorce Ser” 257. On or about July 20, 2007, Caldera received documents from the LANS Corp. to fill out. 258. On or about August 7, 2007, Caldera sent the completed documents back to the LANS Corp. 40 ny-795068
  41. 41. 259. On August 29, 2007, Caldera sent supplemental information, including her sister’s name, death certificate and statement from her father regarding the unknown whereabouts of his granddaughter’s biological father, to the LANS Corp. 260. During this time period, Caldera spoke with a “Mark Mead,” a “Michael LNU” and a “Rhonda Krause.” 261. “David Durojave” assured Caldera that her father’s adoption process should be complete by early September of 2007. 262. On or about the first Saturday in September, Caldera received a phone call from “Mark Mead” who told her that he had all the documents and they were going to “take them and file them.” 263. Caldera asked if her father needed to be there with them and “Mark Mead” said that her father did not need to be with them and that “Legal Aid” would do everything. 264. Caldera asked “Mark Mead” to fax anything that he filed or received on her behalf to the notary who had witnessed Caldera signing the initial statements. 265. “Mark Mead” assured her that he would fax her as soon as everything was filed. 266. Since that Saturday, Caldera has not heard from anyone at the LANS Corp. or anyone else affiliated with “David Durojave,” “Mark Mead,” “Michael LNU” or “Rhonda Krause.” 267. Caldera has repeatedly checked with her county courthouse and there has been nothing filed on her behalf or on her father’s behalf. 268. Caldera has attempted to contact all of the people she spoke with at the LANS Corp. and she has been unable to get through to anyone. She has left messages on the automated message system and still has received no return phone call. 41 ny-795068
  42. 42. 269. Caldera has received no completed paperwork or filing directly from the LANS Corp. or “David Durojave,” “Mark Mead,” “Michael LNU,” or “Rhonda Krause.” 270. Caldera’s father still does not have legal custody over his granddaughter and TRLA is currently trying to place Caldera’s case with a private attorney. I. Blanca Duran 271. On or about April 26, 2007, Blanca Duran (“Duran”), called a phone number that she received from a friend for “Legal Aid.” 272. When Duran called this phone number, the answering machine represented that she had reached the office of “Legal Aid.” 273. Duran was then connected to a live person, “Michael.” 274. Duran first asked “Michael” about their office in El Paso and was told, brusquely, that “Legal Aid” did not have an office in El Paso but was located in Colorado. 275. Duran, who speaks limited English, was beginning the divorce process and did not understand how the process worked in Texas. She was hoping to speak with someone about how to file for divorce. 276. Duran began asking “Michael” about the divorce process in Texas and he cut her off and told her that she would be charged money because “Legal Aid” was no longer free. 277. Duran was surprised by this and also asked “Michael” how they would help her in Texas if they were in Colorado. 278. “Michael” told Duran that they would send a representative to help her if she required it. 279. “Michael” also told Duran that because there were no children or property involved in the divorce, her case would be very simple and she probably would not need any assistance in court. 42 ny-795068
  43. 43. 280. During this first phone call, Duran gave “Michael” her debit card number and authorized a charge for legal assistance in her divorce. 281. On May 2, 2007, $399.00 was withdrawn from her account. 282. On May 7, 2007, Duran received a contract and paperwork from the LANS Corp. and she filled it out and sent it back on or about May 17, 2007. 283. After submitting this paperwork, Duran did not hear from anyone at the LANS Corp. for quite some time. Duran did not initially worry, because she knew that legal offices are often extremely busy. 284. However, after a longer period and despite numerous messages and attempts to speak with someone, Duran’s calls were not answered or returned. Duran became increasingly nervous that she had “lost her money.” 285. Finally, in mid-August, a “Mark Mead” called Duran and told her that he would be “taking over her case.” Duran was extremely relieved to hear that someone was still working on her case. 286. During that conversation “Mark Mead” warned Duran it would take a long time to process her divorce because she was “out of state.” Duran was so excited to be back in contact with her “lawyers” that she did not mind that it would take a longer time than she had initially expected. 287. A few weeks after this conversation, “Mark Mead” called her back to verify her address and told her that he had completed her divorce papers and would be sending them out for her to review and sign. 288. During that conversation, “Mark Mead” again represented that he would file the papers with the appropriate court once she had reviewed and signed them. 43 ny-795068
  44. 44. 289. Duran has not received any paperwork or spoken to anyone from the LANS Corp. since this time. 290. Duran has called them repeatedly and left multiple messages, but has not received any response. 291. In mid-September, a friend of Duran’s told her that the friend’s niece was getting a divorce through TRLA’s El Paso office. 292. Duran argued with this friend and told her that this was impossible, because she had been told by “Michael” that “Legal Aid” did not have an El Paso office. 293. The friend—bewildered—gave Duran the El Paso TRLA office’s phone number and recommended that Duran call them as soon as possible. 294. Duran was extremely upset that she had been lied to by “Legal Aid,” and instead of calling them, she physically went to the offices intending to try to get her money back. 295. Once in the office, a TRLA representative explained that while she had been speaking with “Mark Mead” and “Michael,” she had not actually been speaking to anyone from the TRLA El Paso office. 296. TRLA then conducted an intake for her representation and will most likely be representing her in her legal proceedings. J. Gloria Robles 297. Gloria Robles (“Robles”) is a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. 298. Robles wanted to get a divorce from her husband, who she had been separated from for a long time. 299. In or around mid-May of 2007, Robles called information and when she asked for the number for “San Antonio Legal Aid,” she was given the number (210) 224-9503. 300. The area code “210” is a San Antonio area code. 44 ny-795068
  45. 45. 301. Robles was first connected to an “Aubrey” who began asking her questions immediately. 302. “Aubrey” first asked if Robles had any minor children, then whether there was any property and finally, whether the divorce was contested or uncontested. 303. Robles explained that she had no children, no substantial property and that the divorce would be uncontested. 304. “Aubrey” sounded excited and said that because it was uncontested, there would be no need for Robles to go to court. 305. “Aubrey” also said that “Legal Aid” would have Robles divorced in 45 days and that the fee would be $750.00. 306. Robles believed that she was speaking with the Legal Aid office in San Antonio Texas (TRLA) and so willingly accepted this fee, having no reason to believe that “Legal Aid” would “scam her” out of any money. 307. Robles told “Aubrey” that she would need some time to find the money and that she would call “Aubrey” back. 308. Robles was unable to borrow the money until late October of 2007. 309. As soon as she borrowed the money from a close friend, she called the “Legal Aid” number back and was connected to a man who identified himself as “John John.” 310. On or about October 23, 2007, “John John” told Robles that he was sending her paperwork that she needed to fax back to him and that she needed to wire the fee to him directly, as soon as possible. 311. Robles told “John John” that she wanted his office’s address because she would rather bring the money directly to him than to wire it. 45 ny-795068
  46. 46. 312. Without giving her his address, “John John” told Robles that this was impossible because “Legal Aid” only handled money via wire transfers. 313. After brushing off her desire to give him the money in person, “John John” told Robles that as soon as they got the money, he would start preparing her papers. 314. “John John” also told Robles that he would set a court date as a precautionary measure, but assured her that if her husband signed the papers he prepared, there would be no need for this court date. 315. Excited at the prospect of having her divorce completed so simply, Robles attempted to wire money to “John John” on October 25, 2007 in the morning. 316. The teller at the bank was having difficulty sending the wire and so Robles called “John John” and had him speak directly to the bank teller. 317. After hanging up with “John John,” the bank teller reflected to Robles that she felt there was something “fishy” about the wire. 318. Robles listened to the bank teller, but that afternoon, she found another bank and wired $750.00 to “National Document Service Inc.” in Dallas, Texas at Academy Bank. 319. The “Legal Aid” bank address concerned her because she believed that she had been speaking with someone in San Antonio, Texas throughout the entire process. 320. After wiring the money, Robles waited for “John John” to call her or send her divorce paperwork. 321. One evening, while watching the local news, Robles saw a piece called “Scambusters” that talked about an organization with “Legal Aid” in its name that was holding itself out to be TRLA. 322. After seeing this, Robles became even more concerned. 46 ny-795068
  47. 47. 323. Robles called a number that referred consumers to government services and was given the address for the Legal Aid office in San Antonio (TRLA). 324. Shortly after being given TRLA’s address, Robles attempted to call the (210) 224- 9503 phone number and was told that the office was “closed.” 325. Robles never received anything further from “Aubrey” or “John John” or anyone affiliated with either of them or their organization, although she was told that she would be contacted to review her papers and sign them. 326. Her husband has not received any papers to sign regarding a divorce. 327. Robles is currently waiting for assignment to a TRLA attorney for representation in her divorce proceedings. K. Sandra Orosco 328. On or about mid-November, Sandra Orosco (“Orosco”) was served with divorce papers by her husband. 329. The papers included a summons for her appearance at a court date on November 21, 2007. 330. Upon service, Orosco’s husband informed her that he would be fighting for custody of her 11- and 7-year old children. 331. Panicked by the thought that she might lose her children, Orosco called her mother immediately asking her for help seeking legal assistance. 332. Orosco’s mother found a phone number for what she believed was the San Antonio Legal Aid office, (210) 224-9503. 333. Upon calling this phone number, Orosco spoke with a man who identified himself only as “John.” 47 ny-795068
  48. 48. 334. After Orosco explained her need for legal representation in her divorce and custody proceedings, “John” assured Orosco that he could “get her divorced” in 20 days for the “flat rate” of $650.00. 335. Orosco was elated that “Legal Aid” was willing to help her. 336. After speaking with “John” for a short while, he told her that he would send her a “survey” to fill out and fax back to him. 337. “John” also told her that she needed to wire the $650.00 fee to him as soon as possible so that he could assign her an attorney and so that she could “meet with her attorney.” 338. “John” also told her that there was a 20-day deadline on her filing response papers. 339. On or about November 18, 2007, Orosco’s mother wired “John” $650.00 from her account on Orosco’s behalf. 340. After her mother notified her that the transfer was made, Orosco immediately called “John” to confirm the payment. 341. “John” told her that a lawyer by the name of “Richard Handelman” was going to represent her. 342. “John” further represented that “Richard Handelman” would meet with her to go over all of her necessary paperwork prior to her court date. 343. For the next few days, Orosco faxed “John” and “Richard Handelman” numerous documents that “John” told her they required to represent her. 344. Concerned that she had not yet heard from “Richard Handelman,” Orosco called “John” repeatedly, growing increasingly concerned. 48 ny-795068
  49. 49. 345. “John” made excuses for “Richard Handelman,” saying that he would email “Richard Handelman” and ask him to call Orosco as soon as possible. 346. Finally, “John” told Orosco that “Richard Handelman” would meet her at court the morning of her court date, November 21, 2007. 347. Orosco arrived at court early, but was not approached by anyone named “Richard Handelman.” 348. Eventually, Orosco could not wait any longer and she entered the courtroom herself and attempted to represent herself. 349. Unclear about how to represent herself, Orosco felt that she failed and was confused about what the judge was asking her and how he was ruling. 350. Orosco signed the final judgment without understanding what her options were for contesting or agreeing to its terms. 351. After the court hearing, Orosco called “John” and demanded the return of her $650.00, since “Richard Handelman” never came to the courthouse. 352. “John” apologized and told her to write a statement and ask for her money back, formally. 353. Orosco immediately did this and faxed the statement to “John.” 354. After hearing nothing from “John” in regard to her request for a refund, she called him again and again. 355. Finally, in early December, she reached “John” again. 356. During this call, “John” told Orosco that getting the fee returned to her would “take time” and that he would have “Richard Handelman” call her directly. 49 ny-795068
  50. 50. 357. At this point, Orosco could take no more and said to “John” that she believed that “Legal Aid is a scam.” 358. “John” said “You are hurting my feelings now, Sandra” and proceeded to hang up on her. 359. This was the last conversation that Orosco had with “John” or anyone affiliated with the LANS Corp. 360. Still angry and believing that she had been dealing with the San Antonio office of Legal Aid, Orosco made the decision to go directly to the office. 361. After finding the address of the San Antonio TRLA office, she gathered all of her documents together, including everything from the initial “survey” that “John” sent to her through her letter requesting a refund. 362. Orosco went to the San Antonio TRLA office believing that she would finally meet “John” or “Richard Handelman” and could get her money back directly from them 363. Once she arrived at the TRLA office, she learned that she had not been speaking with anyone from their office. 364. After speaking with an intake worker at TRLA, Orosco came to understand that she had been speaking with an organization that was in no way affiliated with what she understood to be “Texas Legal Aid.” 365. Orosco is now being represented by a private attorney in her family court matters. L. Inna Carrasco 366. In or around August of 2007, Inna Carrasco (“Carrasco”) called Information (“411”) to get the phone number for San Antonio Legal Aid. 367. Carasco was given the phone number (210) 224-9503. 50 ny-795068
  51. 51. 368. Upon calling the phone number, she was immediately transferred to Ext. 700 and spoke with a “Debby.” 369. Carrasco proceeded to tell “Debby” why she was calling. 370. Carrasco’s son had been involved with a woman who had gotten pregnant. The woman claimed that Carrasco’s son was the father and was bringing a child support action against him. 371. Because Carrasco’s son was a minor, Carrasco was acting on his behalf to seek representation for him in the child support action. 372. Carrasco made it clear that she knew her son was not possibly the father of this woman’s child and that they wanted a paternity test to show this. 373. “Debby” told Carrasco that this would be “no problem.” 374. “Debby” told Carrasco that she would email Carrasco an intake form for her to fill out and told her that the paralegal who would be assigned to her case was “Amy Brown.” 375. “Debby” also told Carrasco that it would cost $450.00 to secure representation for her son. 376. Carrasco was so excited about the ease in which she was seemingly able to get legal representation for her son that she asked if she could put her ex-husband, who she remains friendly with, on the phone with “Debby” so that he could speak with her about modifying a child support order from a previous divorce. 377. Carrasco received the questionnaire from “Debby” at her work email address the following day. 378. Carrasco promptly filled it out and returned it to “Debby” via facsimile. 51 ny-795068
  52. 52. 379. Carrasco also sent $450.00 to “Debby” at the end of August 2007, via Legal PayPal. 380. Shortly after this first transaction, Carrasco sent an additional $450.00 on behalf of her ex-husband, who also believed that he was going to be represented by “Amy Brown.” 381. Unhappy that she had not yet spoken with an attorney about her son’s case, Carrasco repeatedly asked both “Debby” and “Amy Brown” to allow her to speak with the attorney they were working for. 382. Finally, “Debby” put a man named “Ed Brown” on the phone with Carrasco. 383. “Ed Brown” explained that he and “Amy Brown” were part of one organization that did “certain things” and if she needed an attorney, she should call the “attorney division” at (866) 565-7188. 384. “Ed Brown” told Carrasco that this division was in Denver, Colorado. 385. Carrasco was growing angry that she still had not spoken to an attorney, which is what “Debby” had told her that she was paying the $450.00 fee to do. 386. “Debby” also told Carrasco that “Legal Aid” had merged in Denver, Colorado and did not exist in San Antonio any longer, so Carrasco would have to call the toll-free number to get in touch with “Legal Aid” attorneys. 387. Finally, Carrasco called the toll-free number that “Ed Brown” had given her. 388. “Ed Brown” had recommended that she ask for a “Mr. White.” 389. However, after calling and speaking with “Mr. White” at the number given to her by “Ed Brown,” she was given another toll-free number to call by “Mr. White” who recommended she speak with someone else. 52 ny-795068
  53. 53. 390. Carrasco did call the number provided by “Mr. White” and eventually she was connected to a woman who identified herself as “Stephanie Allen” who said she worked for “Mark Mead.” 391. “Stephanie Allen” put Carrasco on hold and, eventually, “Mark Mead” came back onto the line to speak with Carrasco. 392. After speaking to him for a few minutes and explaining that she wanted a lawyer to represent her son in his child support hearing, “Mark Mead” told Carrasco that he would try to “help her out” and would call her back. 393. Tired of being run around, the following day, Carrasco called “Mark Mead” again. 394. This time, she again spoke with “Stephanie Allen” who informed her that “Mark Mead” could not speak with her because it would be a “conflict of interest.” 395. At this point, Carrasco was thoroughly confused and desperate for a lawyer’s assistance. 396. She called “Debby” again at the local “Legal Aid” and expressed her outrage. 397. Shortly after this call to “Debby,” she received an email from “Amy Brown’s email account from a “Rita” who claimed to be an attorney, licensed in Texas, who Carrasco could email with any questions she had. 398. Finally, fed up and concerned that her son would not have an attorney in time for his court date, Carrasco put a lien on her home and hired her son an attorney for his hearing. 399. The attorney made a motion for a paternity test and the test showed that Carrasco’s son was not the father of the child. 53 ny-795068
  54. 54. 400. Carrasco has received no further contact from anyone affiliated with any of the people she spoke to, including “Mark Mead,” “Stephanie Allen,” “Kendrick White,” “Rita,” “Debby,” “Ed Brown” or “Amy Brown.” M. Elvira Rubio 401. On or about early December of 2007, Elvira Rubio (“Rubio”) decided to file for divorce from her husband. 402. Rubio called Information (“411”) and asked for the phone number for “Legal Aid.” 403. The operator gave her the local El Paso phone number (915) 629-0644. 404. Upon calling this phone number, Rubio listened to an automated message for “Legal Aid” that directed her to call a toll-free phone number to reach a live operator. 405. Because it was late, Rubio waited until the following day and then called the toll- free number that the machine had provided. 406. Initially, an automated machine picked up at this number, as well. 407. The automated machine asked for the caller’s name and “problem.” 408. Rubio, as best she could because Spanish is her first language, described her desire to get legal representation for a divorce. 409. Eventually, Rubio was put through to someone who identified themselves as “Michael Harold.” 410. “Michael Harold” spoke Spanish, which made Rubio’s description of her problem much simpler than it had been for the automated machine. 411. After hearing what Rubio wanted, “Michael Harold” told Rubio that he was a paralegal and that she would not need an attorney for her divorce. 54 ny-795068

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