Rodis Law Group and America's Law Group advertised nationwide on radio stations and the internet, presenting itself as a law firm that could help struggling homeowners.
Consumers paid fees ranging from $3,500 to $5,500, thinking the supposed Southern California law firm would help them avoid foreclosure. But the head of the firm, Bryan D'Antonio, 50, was a convicted felon who had previously been sentenced to four years in federal prison for his role in a medical billing scam.
He was also subject to a permanent injunction prohibiting him from having any involvement with any business that engaged in telemarketing or misrepresented the services it would provide.
At his plea hearing, D’Antonio pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He admitted that he started Rodis Law Group while he was still on supervised release from his prior conviction.
“D’Antonio preyed on vulnerable victims – struggling homeowners,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California. “Pretending to offer legal assistance to their victims, D’Antonio and his cohorts actually offered nothing but false hopes and empty promises. Now, he will be held accountable in federal court for the damage he has caused so many victims.”
RLG and ALG sold their services through an extensive telemarketing operation and employees routinely misrepresented the services RLG and ALG would provide, prosecutors said.
D’Antonio admitted that, between October 2008 and June 2009, he participated in a scheme with Ronald Rodis, Charles Wayne Farris and others to induce homeowners to pay between $3,500 and $5,500 for the services of RLG and ALG.
RLG and ALG advertised on radio stations nationwide, urging struggling homeowners to call a toll-free number and stated that the companies consisted of “a team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance.”
In fact, RLG and ALG were telemarketing operations that never had teams of experienced attorneys. During much of the time, Ronald Rodis was the only attorney at RLG.
According to court records, telemarketers falsely stated that RLG and ALG routinely obtained positive results for homeowners, including lower monthly payments, reductions in principal balance and lower interest rates. In fact, positive results were rarely achieved for any RLG or ALG clients.
They did not disclose that the firms were owned and operated by Bryan D’Antonio, a convicted felon who was prohibited from engaging in telemarketing.
In a plea agreement filed in federal court, D’Antonio admitted that the RLG and ALG schemes fraudulently obtained approximately $9 million from more than 1,500 victims.
D’Antonio’s co-defendants, Charles Wayne Farris and Ronald Rodis, both previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.