Bankruptcy scam sends Florida paralegal to jail

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A Florida paralegal will spend 15 months in federal prison for his role in a scheme to file false declarations of bankruptcy on homes to prevent mortgagees from foreclosing on them.

Eric Liebman, 34, of Tampa, Florida, was sentenced last week in a US district court after pleading guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud. Attorney James Lee Clark, 59, of Wilton Manors, Fla., pleaded guilty in December to two counts of fraud for his actions in the scheme and will be sentenced in March.

Between 2010 and 2017, Liebman and Clark lied to three separate landlords, telling them they would negotiate with creditors if the landlords transferred their properties to an entity controlled by Clark, prosecutors said. The couple filed false declarations of bankruptcy to prevent foreclosure while convincing the landlords to pay the couple’s rent or sell their home.

Liebman was ordered to pay combined damages of $167,000 to a landlord and his creditors, Nationtar Mortgage (now known as Mr. Cooper), U.S. Bank and Bank of America, although a public defender for Liebman and federal prosecutors in a court filing Friday demanded $155,000 from one of the victims to be paid jointly by Liebman and Clark.

Clark, as his clients’ fiduciary, diverted money to his law firm’s bank accounts, filed a court case, and paid for personal expenses such as gambling, travel, and automobiles. , defrauding its customers out of $1.3 million.

Prosecutors have asked Clark to pay combined restitution of $1.49 million to victims, including Fannie Mae, mortgagees and three victims, according to a plea agreement. Clark faces up to 20 years in prison for fraud, although prosecutors in December recommended a sentence at the bottom of sentencing guidelines.

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