SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - A former attorney from Southern California was arrested Wednesday, the third defendant in a federal indictment accusing the men of defrauding homeowners in a $12 million mortgage modification scam.
Ronald Rodis, 49, of Irvine, surrendered on charges "that he participated in, and lent his name and the law license he formerly possessed to, the fraudulent operation," the U.S. Attorney's Office aid in a statement.
"Rodis lost his license to practice law in California when he resigned from the State Bar in 2009," prosecutors added.
Arrested on Tuesday were Bryan D'Antonio, 47, of Brea, and Charles Wayne Farris, 53, of Aliso Viejo.
All three are accused of victimizing more than 1,800 financially strained homeowners, through the Rodis Law Group and its successor, America's Law Group, the U.S. attorney said.
The homeowners lost "at least $12 million in fees they paid to the companies," and many of them lost their homes too, prosecutors said.
The law firms advertised their "services" nationwide on radio, often with Rodis himself speaking.
According to the U.S. attorney's statement: "Farris and D'Antonio hired and trained salespeople who allegedly told homeowners that Rodis Law Group was '100% successful,' 'routinely lowered monthly payments,' and obtained reduced principal balances. According to the indictment, once the defendants and their co-conspirators convinced homeowners to pay a fee of several thousand dollars, little to no effort was made to obtain loan modifications. After making their payments, homeowners who tried to get updates on the status of their cases were often unable to contact anyone at either company."
What's more, prosecutors said, D'Antonio did this after being convicted of mail fraud and wire fraud in 2003, for another telemarketing scam. That case barred D'Antonio from telemarketing. The new indictment accuses D'Antonio of contempt of court, among other things.
All three defendants are charged with 10 felonies: nine counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
D'Antonio also faces 13 counts of criminal contempt of court.
D'Antonio and Farris pleaded not guilty and are to go to trial on Jan. 28, 2104.
Farris was released on $60,000 bond. D'Antonio is being held without bond, the U.S. attorney said.
Rodis was to be arraigned this afternoon (Thursday).
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