Tuesday, November 6, 2018
A recommendation for disbarment of the California State Bar Court Review Department
This matter involves Chance Edward Gordon’s unsuccessful attempt to avoid the statutory proscription against attorneys receiving advance fees for loan modification services prior to completion of the contracted-for work. Gordon, an attorney admitted only in California, marketed his services nationwide using misleading, false advertising. His operation was extensive, bringing in 11.4 million dollars in fees from more than 2,000 clients. To justify his advance fees, he characterized his work as "Pre-Litigation" activities and his loan modification work as "pro bono" services. In carrying out this ruse, he also violated other laws, and all of his misconduct was surrounded by serious aggravating circumstances. During the investigation of his misconduct, Gordon also engaged in outrageous behavior toward State Bar employees.
The hearing judge found Gordon culpable of six counts of misconduct: (1) moral turpitude; (2) forming a partnership with a non-lawyer; (3) sharing legal fees with a non-lawyer (two counts); (4) false advertising; and (5) failing to comply with laws. The judge also found five factors in aggravation and nominal mitigation. Ultimately, the judge recommended that Gordon be disbarred.
On review, Gordon requests that all six counts be dismissed with prejudice or, in the alternative, that we disqualify the hearing judge and order a new trial. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar (OCTC) urges that we uphold the hearing judge and recommend that Gordon be disbarred. Upon our independent review of the record (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.12), we affirm the hearing judge’s culpability and discipline determinations. Due to Gordon’s serious aggravation and nominal mitigation, we recommend that he be disbarred.
On November 4, 2012, Gordon sent an email to Craig von Freymann, an OCTC investigator, and Erin Joyce, an OCTC prosecutor, directing that if von Freymann wanted to further contact Gordon, he could do so "through three two minute rounds which will be officiated by a professional boxing referee." Two weeks later, Gordon sent another email to von Freymann, stating:
Corrupt investigator...corrupt prosecutor...a Kangaroo court...what a joke. The funny thing is that you people think that you will "close the book" on me and never have to answer for what you have done and what you are doing to me. But your smarter than that, aren’t you Craig? Hated enemies know each other better than best friends...and you know that I will pursue you and your agency until I get my "pound of flesh" ...whether I am inactive attorney, disbarred attorney, whatever...right, Craig?
It got worse from there.
I just want you and every single one of the arrogant assholes that are behind this bullshit crusade to wrongfully and illegally trample my rights...to getting justice and avenging what has been wrongfully done to me by you, Von Freymann, and everyone else behind this campaign of terror...
I want each and everyone [sic] of you to know beyond a reasonable doubt that you are going to answer for what you have done . . . . [¶] You will never "close the book" on me until justice is served. Trust me. As much as you are monitoring and tracking me, I am doing the same to all of you, and will continue to do so even if you leave your current position for the private sector. You’re not the only ones that know how to make life hell. [¶] You have stained the name of my family whose male ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. Justice will be served. Believe it...
I've got the rest of my life to get my revenge...
I want you to know one thing in no uncertain terms Erin...I will find out what is most sacred to you in this world...and I will destroy it...just like you have done to me...and I am going to do the same to every single person that is behind what has been done to me. [¶] You may think that what I am saying is just words...but it’s not...what I’m telling you will be accomplished and fulfilled...no matter how long it takes, nor how hard it is for me to accomplish...I promise you...and I put that promise on the lives of my two children.
The hearing judge found these and other statements were not "empty threats" in light of his Facebook posts.
As the hearing judge found, Gordon’s emails did not appear to be empty threats considering what he posted on Facebook. On his Facebook timeline, Gordon compared his situation to former police officer Christopher Dorner, who committed a series of murders in 2013, and wrote, "Transparency needs to be woven into all of these agencies. If this doesn’t happen, no one should be surprised if blood is shed in the future." In addition, near the time the CFPB action was initiated, Gordon posted a picture of himself holding a gun captioned, "Troubled times lie ahead..."
Joyce and von Freymann took this information to the Los Angeles Superior Court. On May 17, 2013, the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order against Gordon limiting his access to OCTC offices and his contact with Joyce and her minor children. On June 6, 2013, the court issued a Workplace Violence Restraining Order After Hearing against Gordon, which extended the restraining order until June 6, 2016, and added von Freymann as a protected person under the restraining order. At the hearing in this matter, Gordon stated that he "probably" overreacted, but that Joyce instigated his reaction.