Wednesday, July 10, 2013
State Bar Charges Lawyer With Modification Misconduct
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Bar of California said yesterday it has filed disciplinary charges against a Cerritos attorney accused of collecting illegal advanced fees from homeowners and unlawfully practicing law in several states.
Pamela Stacey Gerber-Gressier is facing 108 counts of misconduct including the unauthorized practice of law in another jurisdiction, aiding in the unauthorized practice of law, collecting an illegal fee, moral turpitude and failing to return unearned fees, the State Bar said in a release. Gerber-Gressier, 53, is also accused of convincing a former client to withdraw his State Bar complaint in exchange for the return of unearned fees he paid her and enticing several clients to sign documents waiving their right to file malpractice claims by offering partial fee refunds.
In doing so, Gerber-Gressier also failed to inform the clients that they could seek the advice of an independent lawyer, the State Bar said. In a notice of disciplinary charges filed on June 28, the State Bar said Gerber-Gressier ran Orange County law firms under the names Prudential Law Group, Prudent Law Group and Remedy Center Law Associates at the time her misconduct occurred, in 2011 and 2012.
Using the various firm names, Gerber-Gressier allegedly sent advertisements through the mail to homeowners in Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Georgia and New Jersey offering loan modification services. She was not licensed to practice law in any of those states and did not personally evaluate the clients’ cases, the State Bar said, and did not determine how much in legal fees to charge them, or whether they qualified for loan modifications, leaving those tasks to non-attorney staff members instead.
Gerber-Gressier is also accused of improper solicitation because the mailers she sent to prospective clients did not clearly state that they were advertisements and made it appear as though they were sent by the homeowners’ respective mortgage holders. In addition, the mailers contained other misleading statements including that the sender had already reviewed the terms of the recipients’ mortgages.
The State Bar hailed the misconduct charges against Gerber-Gressier as part of its “ongoing effort to curb loan modification fraud targeting consumers.”
Gerber-Gressier could not be reached for comment late yesterday. State Bar records show she was admitted in 1989 and has no record of discipline.
Since February 2009, the State Bar’s release said, the it has received 12,502 complaints regarding loan modification services and 9,581 of those matters have proceeded to the investigation stage. Of those, 1,536 have resulted in the filing of disciplinary charges involving roughly 195 licensed California attorneys, and 42 lawyers have been disbarred, with more than 100 receiving lesser discipline.
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