Court Finds Defendants Lied to Consumers When Selling Legal Services for Mortgage Relief
The defendants knew they were deceiving consumers and illegally took more than $18 million from them
A federal court has found that Jeremy Foti and Charles Marshall, acting through Brookstone Law and Advantis Law, "made numerous false and/or misleading material statements to consumers" when selling legal services for purported mortgage relief.
The court found that Foti and Marshall controlled or participated in the scheme, knew they were deceiving consumers, and illegally took more than $18 million from them.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has asked the court to impose monetary judgments on the defendants and ban them from any debt relief activities in the future.
The court found that the defendants falsely told homeowners they could get "at least $75,000" or their homes "free and clear" through so-called mass joinder lawsuits.
These suits combined hundreds of consumers in the same matter; however, unlike class-action lawsuits, in the event of trial each plaintiff in a mass joinder suit would have to prove his or her case separately. The defendants had never prevailed in such a suit.
As a result of the court's decision, litigation against all of the defendants in this matter has now been resolved. Earlier this year, Vito Torchia and R. Geoffrey Broderick stipulated to orders banning them from debt relief work in the future, including a judgment of almost $2 million against Broderick. Damian Kutzner and Jonathan Tarkowski also stipulated to orders, with Kutzner agreeing to a judgment of more than $18 million.
Damian Kutzner; Vito Torchia, Jr.; Jonathan Tarkowski; R. Geoffrey Broderick; Charles T. Marshall; Brookstone Law P.C., doing business as Brookstone Law Group, a California corporation; Brookstone Law P.C., doing business as Brookstone Law Group, a Nevada corporation; Advantis Law P.C.; and Advantis Law Group P.C. were all defendants in this case and charged with violating the FTC Act and the FTC's Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule (MARS Rule) and Regulation O.