Monday, October 2, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Really, Really Sleazy

SAN DIEGO (CN) - Two Southern California men were sentenced to nine years and two years in prison for defrauding more than 4,000 homeowners of $11 million in a mortgage modification scam through the "1st American Law Center."

Shelveen Shraneel Singh, 26, of Corona, will do nine years in federal prison, and Johnathon Daniel Hearn, 31, of Oceanside, got two years, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Both must pay restitution to be determined.

Singh was a "a leading telemarketer who sold loan modification services on behalf of 1st American Law Center at a satellite office in Riverside," the U.S. attorney said in a statement.

The statement continues: "Among other lies, Singh and his co-defendants falsely promised to have a team of attorneys 'pre-screen' clients, and falsely boasted that 1st American had a '98%' success rate in obtaining loan modifications for clients. 1st American Law Center's telemarketers were encouraged to say virtually anything to close a sale, and employed a variety of ruses, including: pretending to have helped thousands of happy homeowners save their homes; claiming to have been in business for 20 years; promising that that clients' fees would be deposited into a client-trust account and remain untouched until the client was satisfied; and assuring clients that they were protected by a money-back guarantee."

In addition to those "standard lies," Singh also took money from clients' accounts without their permission, and threatened them with physical harm.

"Singh even impersonated a law enforcement officer and threatened to arrest clients if they did not pay 1st American Law Center's fees," the U.S. attorney said.

In sentencing Singh to 110 months in prison, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez "noted that instead of paying restitution for a previous crime as required, Singh instead spent money on himself, racking up credit card charges that he later discharged in bankruptcy, and purchasing for himself an expensive Mercedes," prosecutors said.

Three other men have been sentenced: Gary Bobel to 92 months, Scott Thomas Spencer to 43 months, and Travis Iverson to two years.

Dean Chandler, a 1st American Law Center attorney, is awaiting trial, as is Michael Eccles.

Victims of 1st American Law Center may call the U.S. attorney's victim/witness coordinator, Polly Montano, at (619) 546-8921.

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.