A twice-convicted felon from California was sentenced Tuesday to 109 months in prison for operating bogus law firms that promised to assist struggling homeowners.
In August 2016, Bryan D’Antonio, 50, of Brea, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in his role as the owner and operator of a multi-million-dollar fraudulent mortgage modification scheme.
D’Antonio will spend the final 12 months of his incarceration in a halfway house and pay $3,826,977.95 in restitution.
Between October 2008 and June 2009, D’Antonio operated a scheme with Ronald Rodis, Charles Wayne Farris, and others to entice homeowners to pay between $3,500 and $5,500 for the services of Rodis Law Group (RLG) and America’s Law Group (ALG). RLG and ALG utilized national radio advertising to lure struggling homeowners to call a toll-free number, claiming that the companies consisted of “a team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance.”
The syndicated advertisements falsely represented RLG and ALG, which were merely telemarketing operations that collected payments from strapped homeowners without providing anything of value to most of them. Ronald Rodis was RLG’s only attorney throughout most of the hoax.
D’Antonio’s schemes fraudulently accrued approximately $9 million from more than 1,500 victims.
“This defendant — a repeat telemarketing fraudster — took advantage of vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure during the mortgage crisis,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “His two fake law firms promised homeowners assistance [in] saving their homes and modifying their mortgages. The sad reality is both firms were nothing more than telemarketing scams.”
“While still under court supervision after serving a prison term in another telemarketing case, D’Antonio oversaw what was essentially a boiler room operation that preyed upon struggling homeowners,” Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown said. “Hundreds of victims lost millions of dollars after D’Antonio’s employees told a series of lies that misrepresented nearly every aspect of the business. Today’s lengthy sentence will ensure that he will not have the opportunity to defraud unsuspecting victims for many years.”
D’Antonio previously participated in a medical billing scheme for which he was convicted of mail and wire fraud and sentenced to four years in federal prison. A permanent injunction prohibited him from associating with any telemarketing business. D’Antonio was on supervised release from his prior conviction when he started RLG.
Charles Wayne Farris and Ronald Rodis previously entered guilty pleas to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Their sentencing is scheduled for May 1.
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