Saturday, December 4, 2010

Debt Collection Firm Sets Up Phony Court

From the “Unbelievable Department” as reported by the Disciplinary Board  of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania:

We have all heard stories of unlicensed persons engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. But a complaint filed by the Consumer Protection Bureau of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania points to what may be a first – the unauthorized practice of jurisprudence.

According to the Attorney General’s office, an Erie debt collection company allegedly set up a section of its office decorated as a courtroom, with furniture and decorations similar to those used in actual court offices, including a raised "bench" area; tables and chairs in front of the "bench" for attorneys and defendants; a simulated witness stand; seating for spectators; and, legal books on bookshelves. An individual dressed in black reportedly sat behind the “bench.” Attorney General[1] Tom Corbett stated that “Consumers also allegedly received dubious 'hearing notices' and letters – often hand-delivered by individuals who appear to be Sheriff Deputies – which implied they would be taken into custody by the Sheriff if they failed to appear at the phony court for 'hearings' or 'depositions'." This technique was used to intimidate debtors into making payments, signing agreements, and turning over assets such as vehicle titles,

The company agreed to dismantle the setup in a hearing before Erie County Judge Michael E. Dunlavey.[2] The Attorney General’s suit seeking penalties and a permanent injunction remains pending.


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