Mortgage Relief Scheme Had Bogus Lawyers, Hawaii Says

     (CN) – Hawaii’s attorney general wants to enjoin four people he says are practicing law illegally and operating a fraudulent mortgage-relief scheme in the state.
     The state sued Common Law Office of America in Oahu First Circuit Court, along with four of its agents – Anthony Williams, Mary Jean Castillo, Hep Yanez Guinn and Kenneth Marvin Byrd.
     “The defendants have been operating CLOA as an ersatz law firm which serves as a vehicle for their illicit mortgage relief scheme in the state of Hawai’i,” according to the complaint.
     An internet search for Common Law Office of America gives a result for a national company with various U.S. offices, three of which are in Hawaii (Honolulu, Hilo and Kauai). No phone numbers are listed, however, for any of the Hawaii offices.
     On its website, CLOA advertises “Mortgage Reduction, Foreclosure Assistance, Document Writing, Will Preparation, Estate Planning, UCC Filings, Consulting, Power of Attorney, Travel ID … and much more.”
     CLOA’s Hawaii office is located in Honolulu’s commercial Waterfront Plaza complex, an area locals know as Restaurant Row.
     The state says CLOA, Williams and Castillo hold themselves out to Hawaii consumers as “private attorneys general” on their web site usacommonlaw.com.
     “Defendant CLOA’s website is rife with dangerous consumer misrepresentations, and absurd legal advice, such as : ‘ …[W]hat most people don’t realize nor understand is that the attorney at law works for the BAR (British Accreditation Regency) therefore they are foreign agents of the foreign court system to extort money from the American people under the disguise of an American legal system,'” according to the complaint.
     The state adds that “all of the defendants have entered appearances of record purporting to be attorneys for various clients in numerous courts in Hawaii.”
     Williams in particular claimed to be an attorney in various cases in the Hawaii Circuit Courts for Judges Rhonda Nishimura, Bert Ayabe and Elizabeth Strance, according to the complaint.
     In Federal Court, Williams has allegedly misrepresented himself as an attorney before U.S. District Judges Susan Mollway, Michael Seabright and Kevin Chang.
     Hawaii says as recently as September 2013, the defendants advertised themselves on their website as “distressed property consultants.”
     “STOP FORECLOSURE,” the statement allegedly reads. “If you are in foreclosure, you need to call us NOW! Don’t wait a second longer. No matter what stage you are in we are able to stop the process and negotiate a payment schedule that is affordable and fair. Let us help you save your home.”
     Courthouse News visited the Honolulu office, but General Manager Jessica Deras declined to comment on the complaint.
     Deras said she was unfamiliar with the current complaint and that it is company practice not to comment without forwarding to the legal team, especially after having recently fielded questions from the local police.
     Deras did not elaborate on whether the recent police questions pertained to this complaint.
     The business card Deras gave Courthouse News named “Regus” and www.regus.com rather than CLOA.
     An Internet search for Regus produces only an office space management company, and more than one company shares the same suite as the CLOA Honolulu office, so Deras’ association with CLOA is unclear.     
     Videos of the so-called “private attorneys general” appear in a YouTube series called “Outlaws-in-Justice.”
     In one video, a man identified as Williams is wearing a badge and flipping through papers in a manila folder as he spouts legal jargon.
     “It just basically gives U.S. Bank National Association the go-ahead to take full possession thereof, but that’s going to kind of be impossible,” Williams says. “How can a corporation, which is a dead entity, take possession of anything? Only live beings can take possession. So it’s very interesting how U.S. Bank National is going to take possession of this house. I would like to see that. And who is U.S. Bank National? Well, because they have to be a live entity, a live being. Only live beings can occupy. So how is U.S. Bank National going to execute a possession? That’s what I want to see.”
     Hawaii claims that the defendants not licensed attorneys yet purport to take power of attorney from distressed property owners and will continue to harm Hawaii consumers if they are not enjoined from the deceptive practice.
     Deputy Attorney General C. Bryan Fitzgerald signed the complaint.
     He seeks immediate and permanent injunctions, plus civil fines and restitution, for the deceptive trade practice.

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