SACRAMENTO ATTORNEY CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION, MORAL TURPITUDE AND DISHONESTY
Media Contact: Diane Curtis 415-538-2028 firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco, Oct. 7, 2010 — A Sacramento lawyer named this week in a $60 million loan modification fraud suit by the attorney general has been charged by the State Bar with hiding $300,000 in collections from his partner and failing to both return money to his client and deposit the money in a Client Trust Account.
James Sandison, 55, general counsel for My US Legal Services, was charged with moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption regarding acts committed from 2005 to 2010. Sandison had been partners with attorney Mark Hitman in a joint venture, Hitman and Sandison, in which they pursued theft of cable services matters first for AT&T and then for Comcast.
Over a five-year period, when his partner believed little money was coming in for Comcast, Sandison deposited $300,000 in a number of bank accounts, the majority of which were not Client Trust Accounts, which are required for holding client funds. Under terms of the contract, Comcast was to be paid 60 percent of funds collected from individuals who pirated cable services. Over time, but not in a timely manner and not always from required Client Trust Accounts, Sandison paid Comcast $142,900, $35,000 short of what it is owed. Sandison owed Hitman $56,000 but only paid him $3,000. Regarding both Hitman and Comcast, the State Bar complaint said, Sandison used funds belonging to others “for his own personal use and benefit.” Sandison also is charged with the unauthorized practice of law for allowing a non-attorney to use his name and Client Trust Account.
The State Bar charges coincide with the announcement Wednesday by Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. that Sandison, two companies and four other individuals are defendants in a $60 million loan modification scam lawsuit. State Bar prosecutors joined the attorney general’s office and the Department of Real Estate in the investigation. The attorney general's suit is against My US Legal Services, US Loan Auditors, Sandison, attorneys Sharon Lapin of Greenbrae and Jonathan G. Stein of Elk Grove and two other owners of the companies, Jeffrey Pulvino and Shane Barker. It seeks civil penalties, restitution for victims and permanent injunctions to keep the companies and other defendants from fraudulently marketing forensic loan audits and legal services that had no value. Homeowners would pay thousands of dollars for the so-called forensic loan audits, which the companies used to convince them they had a strong legal case against lenders. Many homeowners were persuaded to stop making their loan payments and instead file lawsuits. As a result, they lost thousands of dollars and, in some cases, their homes.