Stevan John Henrioulle, 68, Oakland, California, and Ronald Veridiano Uy, 52, Pacifica, California, are recommended for disbarment by a California State Bar Court judge for involvement in a scheme to defraud struggling homeowners.
State Bar Court Judge Patrice E. McElroy found Henrioulle and Uy culpable of 29 counts of misconduct in nine client matters for running a sham foreclosure rescue business with help from a former lawyer who had resigned with charges pending. Henrioulle was independently found culpable of four additional charges.
In her October 28, 2013, Decision, McElroy found Henrioulle and Uy culpable of misconduct including moral turpitude, failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to return unearned fees, failing to communicate and aiding in the unauthorized practice of law. Their disbarments must be approved by the California Supreme Court.
Operating a firm known as the Law Offices of Uy and Henrioulle with former attorney Tarik Sami Soudani as their office manager, Henrioulle and Uy took on as many as 200 clients between July 2009 and October 2011, entering into agreements with them to perform loan modifications and file lawsuits against their lenders that they claimed would lower their mortgage rates or stop foreclosure. Clients, some of them immigrants who learned of the firm from foreign- language radio stations, paid upfront fees of $3,995 to $4,500, followed by monthly payments initially set at $500, which rose to $650 and then $850. Despite no longer being a lawyer, Soudani was allowed to meet with clients and in many of the cases Uy and Henrioulle did little or no work, causing the clients to lose their homes anyway.
In her decision McElroy wrote that Henrioulle and Uy clearly took advantage of vulnerable, desperate homeowners.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Counsel Manuel Jimenez. In addition to their disbarment, Uy and Henrioulle have been ordered to pay $46,600 in restitution.
“What is most disturbing to the court are the facts that respondent essentially let Soudani take over their office when they knew he was not entitled to practice law and while all of their clients were under tremendous financial stress,” she wrote.