(CN) – A group of law firms that offer advice to debtors says a company it hired to provide administrative services took $9 million in profits and is holding sensitive client records hostage. Persels & Associates, of Towson, Md. dba Consumer Law Associates and Legal Advice Line, sued My Professional Advice in Baltimore County Court.
The attorneys say My Professional Advice owner Mark Cauchon distributed $9 million of the law firms’ profits to shareholders, including at least $2 million to himself as majority stockholder.
Cauchon contracted with Persels & Associates to provide administrative and management services for the firm, which sells low-cost, over-the-phone legal advice to consumers in debt through a network of field attorneys in all 50 states, according to the complaint.
The law firm’s owner, Jimmy Persels, says that when business quadrupled due to a referral agreement with a debt counseling service, Cauchon refused to spend money on hiring more attorneys and other investments needed to meet demand, putting the business at risk.
Instead, Persels says, Cauchon distributed profits to shareholders and began “winding down” the business. The business has closed, and Cauchon refuses to return two databases that contain all of the law firms’ client information, Persels says.
Persels seeks an injunction ordering Cauchon to give up more than 20,000 client records and to return the $9 million. He is represented by Robert Bowie Jr. with Bowie & Jensen.