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Reader Contributes Post About August Belmont & Company, The Paul A. Herman Law Firm & Defense Lawyers

I received the following post from a reader. The reader said, “Attached, please find a long detailed letter I researched & wrote, which I hope you and your readers will find helpful regarding two companies, August Belmont Company / The Paul A. Herman Law Firm & Defense Lawyers, P.A. (both in Boca Raton, FL) in the “debt settlement” industry.”

Reader Contributes Post About August Belmont & Company, The Paul A. Herman Law Firm & Defense Lawyers
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Dear Steve,

Hello, and thank you for your website it’s been very informative and helpful.

This is long, so:

Executive Summary:

I am up to my ears in credit card debt and have also been looking for a “magic bullet” to eradicate it.

To that end, I’ve responded to web offers and have heard from multiple people who purport to assist me.

Debt Settlement Companies
Credit Counseling Companies
Debt Consolidation Companies

On & on & on & on, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!  These people won’t give up!  And, they’re fairly convincing.  And, I’m fairly good-natured, always see the good in people and generally think that things work (I’ve tried various uh, “opportunities” (more accurately called “schemes”!), some of which have contributed to my credit card debt!).

And, now, two weeks ago, I got laid off from my job. My “position was terminated” is how they put it, so politely.  

So, I started listening more carefully to these persistent people.  Two of them to be exact.:

1. Anthony J. Peters,
Consumer Protection Specialist  
D.O.A and Consumer Services Lic # TP38402 of August Belmont Co
902 Clint Moore Road
Suite 144
Boca Raton, Florida 33487
“A Private Lawyer Referral Service”
Phone: (561) 910 8135
Email: apeters[email protected]
Website: www.theabclegal.com

and Mr. Peter’s manager, Mike Brugnolotti, Phone: (561) 910-6017. I’ve never received an email from Mr. Brugnolotti, but I’m guessing it would be [email protected]

August Belmont & Co refers consumers to attorney Paul A. Herman

2. Mark Avey of Defense Lawyers, PA
101 Plaza Real South
Suite 204
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Phone: 800-779-0233 ext.107 
www.mydefenselaw.com  
[email protected] 
He is calling on behalf of attorney Lee Stein.  

Let’s start with #1.

Real hard sell. Real, real, real hard sell.

I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night!

They wanted me to immediately sign their “docusign” document, which then starts sucking out the monthly fee out of my checking account.

And, it really doesn’t guarantee me anything. Except getting ripped off.

I had the “pleasure” of speaking with Mr. Peters on a number of occasions.

And fortunately, my super model girlfriend told me, “don’t fall for a scam”.

So, I started Googling.

And, fortunately, I found your website. And kept on Googling from there.

I found Mr. Peters completely annoying and after numerous conversations, had the following email exchange with him, in chronological order:

———-

On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM, XXXXXXXXX wrote:
Anthony,

1. What are the statistics regarding dismissal/reduction of debts?
2. I’m paying Paul A. Herman Law Firm $18,000.
3. I’m uncomfortable with that number. It’s 26.8% of the outstanding debt. I’d prefer to pay 20% = $13,404
4. Will I owe anything beyond that to my creditors?
5. If entire $67,021 is not dismissed, will the amount I pay to attorney be reduced?
6. What is the fee schedule for reduction?
7. What guarantees do you provide?

Thank you.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

———-

From: XXXXXXXXXXX
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 10:38 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Questions

I never received a response from you regarding answers to these questions, nor did I hear from you yesterday at 5 pm as we were scheduled.

Are you legitimate?

———-

From: Anthony Peters
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:20 PM
To: ‘XXXXXXXX
Subject: RE: Questions

Mr. XXXXXXX,

Good afternoon XXXXXXX. Below you will find answers to the questions you had concerning the attorney representation we spoke about. I was unable to answer prior to today due to the fact that %90 of our day is scheduled with appointments.

On Friday shortly after our conversation I had a client walk in at which point I spent the better part of three and a half hours in the conference room explaining the program and filling out paperwork.

Monday 7/30 was a scheduled day off for me as my fiancé and I had plans with her parents that were in the country on vacation. Due to how vague and short our conversation was on Friday I was not aware of your expectations to speak yesterday at 5 pm and I do apologize for not being present.

If five o’clock this evening works for you I have an opening and will leave it available until I hear from you…

To specifically address your low blow referring to the legitimacy of August Belmont and Company and the program I was educating you on, first off as a professional I do not appreciate that comment and maybe these links will shed some light on that “concern”:

http://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/attorney-referral-services/august-belmont-and-company-in-boca-raton-fl-90041119

http://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/attorneys/the-herman-law-group-in-boca-raton-fl-90025408

http://www.floridabar.org/names.nsf/0D856BE6EA32ECE1052576D9006CBABB/15BB863F986F1E3385256A8300816777?OpenDocument

http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/33498-fl-paul-herman-1261985.html

http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/177_7/jpmorgan-chase-consumer-debt-collection-1045606-1.html?zkPrintable=1&nopagination=1 (this article documents one of the biggest scandals concerning meaningful choice and the falsifying of documents and contracts) Do you think Chase is the only lender guilty of this?

Please review the attachment on this email as it contains “The consumer educational packet.” I have taken the time to highlight some of the information as it addresses many of my clients concerns. Also note that those documents are directly from the Federal Trade Commission.

As far as statistics regarding dismissal/reduction of debts, I am not sure if you are aware but NO lawyer can or should guarantee the results of a contested case to a potential or current client. This is because a contested legal matter has many variables that can change the result.

Yes, you would be paying the Law Offices of Paul a. Herman P.A $18,000.00 based on a total debt amount of $67,021.00. I am sorry that you are not comfortable with that number but unfortunately that is something is not negotiable and the hardest part about my job is the reality that “I can’t help everyone,” even those that truly need and want an attorney to represent them.

Your lawyer will be providing a legal service for you that requires a tremendous amount of work, all of which is done under the supervision of the judiciary. Not only will your Lawyer be utilizing federal consumer protection laws by putting your accounts in dispute but they will also provide you with a second service; Credit Report Violation Service and Statutory Dispute Assistance. In simple terms, your WHOLE credit report will be monitored throughout the process.

Regarding your question of “will I owe anything beyond that to my creditors”, you have to remember each case is unique and can have different outcomes. Because of this on our next telephone conversation I will explain to you likely, possible and any unlikely results. If the entire debt is not dismissed the amount you owe your attorney will not be reduced but that is an event that you have total control over.

There is no fee schedule for a reduction as this is not debt settlement, bankruptcy or consolidation. You are hiring the lawyer to identify violations of your consumer protection rights by your creditor and to go after them for dismissal, and because of that, not everyone qualifies.

I can guarantee you that if you do nothing you will owe your creditors 67,021.00 and it will take anywhere from 10-20 years of minimum payments to resolve. You will have no protection as the amount you owe your creditors now can easily be inflated, and timeline extended, if they simply wake up one day and decided to increase your interest rates.

XXXXXXXX, I guarantee you that if you go with a settlement company you will have your credit devastated as you will be put in default and marked late on your credit every single month. You will be taxed or issued a 1099c on any “forgiven balance” and will end up being in debt with the government. Or the most likely event, you will be sued by your creditors and run the risk of judgments and liens being placed against you and/or your property.

I guarantee that if you solicit settlements on your own with your creditors you can achieve at least a %50 reduction but it will show as account settled for less than what was owed (shows any new/potential creditors that you did not pay the full balance) and you will still have to claim the %50 that was forgiven as earned income on your taxes.

Lets say that’s an amount of 33,510.50 @ %25 – you would end up owing the government and additional $ 8,377.62. I guarantee that if you choose to enroll in a consolidation program you will end up paying %100-110 of what you owe despite the reduction in interest due to high fees, and your payment will be close to that of the minimum that the lenders are currently requesting. What does that leave? Bankruptcy? The program we have been speaking about provides the best possible outcome out of all the programs available I GUARENTEE IT!

Furthermore XXXXXXX, I guarantee you that you will be protected by federal law and I will explain the pros and cons of your particular situation as well as give you examples of likely, possible and unlikely results, and discuss your options with you so that you are informed about your case and what programs may or may not benefit you. Your attorney guarantees that he will continue to render services until all accounts are resolved and that services will be completed in no longer than 24 months.

I hope this helps and if you are truly looking to get out of debt I am here to educate you and address any additional concerns that you may have and continue to show you how when compared to ALL other options, THIS IS HANDS DOWN THE BEST PROGRAM AVAILABLE!

Regards,
Anthony J. Peters
Consumer Protection Specialist
D.O.A and Consumer Services Lic # TP38402

Phone: (561) 910-8135
Fax: (561) 910-7427
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.theabclegal.com

———-

From: XXXXXXXXXXXX
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 5:41 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Questions

Anthony,

Your verbosity is killing me.

Here are the issues that are of concern to me:

1. “As far as statistics regarding dismissal/reduction of debts, I am not sure if you are aware but NO lawyer can or should guarantee the results of a contested case to a potential or current client. This is because a contested legal matter has many variables that can change the result.”

In general – what have been the results? Are we talking complete dismissal? What is the track record overall of Mr. Herman? You and/or Mr. Herman (because you work closely together, you both occupy the same address) must closely track the outcome, so you must have statistics. I’d need to know what your statistics are.

2. “Yes, you would be paying the Law Offices of Paul a. Herman P.A $18,000.00 based on a total debt amount of $ 67,021.00.”

My concern is that you are asking me to sign a contract obligating me to pay $18,000 for an uncertain outcome that has only been looked over by you. You state your title to be Consumer Protection Specialist with a license number of TP 38402; you are licensed as a Commercial Telephone Salesperson by the State of Florida.

License Type: Commercial Telephone Salesperson
License#: TP38402
Issued: 10/28/11
Expires Status: 10/28/12

I would need to speak to Paul A. Herman first to understand that a legal professional (Paul A. Herman) has reviewed my particulars and feels that I will have a successful outcome.

3. “I am sorry that you are not comfortable with that number but unfortunately that is something is not negotiable.”

Everything is negotiable. Your offer is 27%. I am offering 20%.

4. “all of which is done under the supervision of the judiciary.”

The attorney is an officer of the court and he is obligated to be under the supervision of the judiciary. That is like saying that a human benefits from sunlight.

5. “Not only will your Lawyer be utilizing federal consumer protection laws by putting your accounts in dispute but they will also provide you with a second service; Credit Report Violation Service and Statutory Dispute Assistance. In simple terms, your WHOLE credit report will be monitored throughout the process.”

It states very plainly in the contract document that I will be paying an additional fee for this service.

The Law Firm, through its service providers, offers Credit Report Violation Services and Statutory Dispute Assistance; this supplemental service shall be billed as an additional charge of $29.99 per month for individuals or $39.99 per month for a family (2 persons). This fee is processed at the same time as your regular monthly payment to the law firm

6. “Regarding your question of “will I owe anything beyond that to my creditors”, you have to remember each case is unique and can have different outcomes. Because of this on our next telephone conversation I will explain to you likely, possible and any unlikely results.”

I would be more comfortable if you would respond in writing or if you insist on speaking on the phone, if you would have your manager or someone else speak with me on the phone, rather than yourself. My first preference would be to speak with Mr. Herman.

7. “If the entire debt is not dismissed the amount you owe your attorney will not be reduced but that is an event that you have total control over.”

Please explain what you mean by this.

8. “There is no fee schedule for a reduction as this is not debt settlement, bankruptcy or consolidation. You are hiring the lawyer to identify violations of your consumer protection rights by your creditor and to go after them for dismissal, and because of that, not everyone qualifies.”

I would want to know whether or not I would qualify prior to signing your agreement.

So to sum up what I believe I’ve received from you:

1. What are the statistics regarding dismissal/reduction of debts? You can’t promise me anything, but I didn’t ask for any promises. I only requested statistics. And I’d like the statistics of Mr. Herman’s firm.

2. I’m paying Paul A. Herman Law Firm $18,000. You confirmed that.

3. I’m uncomfortable with that number. It’s 26.8% of the outstanding debt. I’d prefer to pay 20% = $13,404

You stated that it is non-negotiable. I stated that everything is negotiable.

4. Will I owe anything beyond that to my creditors?

You did not answer the question, just that “every case is unique, and that you will explain the likely, possible and any unlikely results.

5. If entire $67,021 is not dismissed, will the amount I pay to attorney be reduced?

You stated that the attorneys fee would not be, but that is an event that I would have total control over. I do not understand what you mean by that.

6. What is the fee schedule for reduction?

I believe you state that I am paying for services provided, not a contingency fee. Thus there is no fee schedule for reduction.

7. What guarantees do you provide.

You do not provide any guarantees.

Please confirm.

Thank you.

———-

From: Anthony Peters
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2012 11:17 AM
To: XXXXXXXXXXX
Subject: RE: Questions

XXXXXXXX

I will be in contact by the end of business today as I am working on scheduling an appointment for you with my manager.

Regards,
Anthony J. Peters

Consumer Protection Specialist
D.O.A and Consumer Services Lic # TP38402

Phone : (561) 910-8135
Fax : (561) 910-7427
Email : [email protected]
Website: www.theabclegal.com

———-

Oh, and by the way, what do you think is the license Mr. Peter’s holds from the Department of Agriculture of the Great State of Florida is? D.O.A and Consumer Services Lic # TP38402 His title is “Consumer Protection Specialist” His license is Commercial Telephone Salesperson. Nothing wrong with that, but he’s hardly a Consumer Protection Specialist.

Reader Contributes Post About August Belmont & Company, The Paul A. Herman Law Firm & Defense Lawyers

Now, on to the fun part. I speak with his manager, Mike Brugnolotti. Mike, it turns out is from Staten Island. Nothing wrong with that. Mike was formerly a contractor, and you know, the economy turned sour and he decided to help the world and all the consumers that have been hurt by the big bad banks.

Mike is very convincing. And, I say, “You know, Mike, this sounds pretty good. I would like to speak to Mr. Paul A. Herman and then I think I’ll have all the information I need to make a decision.” Mike says, “Hey, I gotta know that if I can get Mr. Herman to speak with you, you’re totally on board, that this is not just some fishing expedition, you know…”. “Mike, you’ve got my word. I just need to do my due diligence on my end.” “Absolutely, I understand.”

I actually heard from Mike last night (8/12) and returned his call, but his voicemail was full and couldn’t leave a message. So I texted him. I’m always suspicious about guys when their voicemail is full. Maybe they’re really busy, but I’m a busy guy too, and I’ve never had my voicemail full…

So, I Googled Mike Brugnolotti, and wouldn’t you know it, the Great State of Ohio issued a cease & desist order for Mr. Grugnolotti (then of Staten Island) for selling securities without a securities dealer’s license. http://www.com.ohio.gov/secu/docs/BUL011.pdf (see page 7) Hey, it was 2000, everybody was doing it! He was young; give a guy a break!

So, at this point, I’m waiting to hear from Mr. Brugnolotti and whether I’ll be able to speak with Mr. Herman prior to signing a contract. I’m telling them: no speak, no sign.

I have a contract from August Belmont & it is the same as the one you have already. And with the Esquire Support Services and all that.

And looking at www.sunbiz.org, you can see that Larry Diodato was the registered agent prior to it being changed to Robby Birnbaum, 8/5/11.

Website www.theabclegal.com is very cheesy and provides no address (red flag!)

Website of The Law Office of Paul A. Herman seems pretty nice: http://www.paherman.com

However, phone number listed on website (800) 269-4685 brings you to Esquire Litigation Support, and then through phone chain you can get to legal team of Paul A. Herman. But, you just get voicemail.

So, seems pretty fishy overall…

———-

Mark Avey of Defense Lawyers, PA
101 Plaza Real South
Suite 204
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Phone: 800-779-0233 ext.107
www.mydefenselaw.com
[email protected]

He is calling on behalf of attorney Lee Stein. Yes, Lee Andrew Stein, formerly of Hess-Kennedy

I ask Mr. Avey how long has Mr. Stein been associated with Defense Lawyers, P.A. “Oh, since it was founded, in October 2006!”, he exclaims.

When I look on www.sunbiz.org, it shows that George Ackerman founded it in 3/13/10 as Debtlawyers, P.A. and, Lee Stein joined & address change 6/24/10 & name change 11/2/10. They also have an incredibly cheesy website.

Lee Stein was with Hess-Kennedy in 2008 when he was subpoenaed as a witness as part of the Hess-Kennedy receivership. This link http://www.hesskennedyreceiver.com/pdfs/hess_112008.pdf indicates such.

And, their website: www.mydefenselaw.com is really cheesy, too.

Here’s the email I received from Mark Avey:

———-

From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Monday, August 06, 2012 4:52 PM
To: xxxxxxxxx
Subject: Debt Elimination as Discussed // DEFENSE LAWYERS, PA

Take Control of your Debt, your Life and your Peace of Mind!!!

Program Terms for XXXXXXXX

Here are some of the benefits of hiring of our law firm. We have helped clients like you by vigorously advocating on our clients’ behalf and also defending our clients against their creditors.

We attempt to:

1. Aim to reduce your total unsecured debt by estimated 45%
2. Allow interest-free, affordable monthly payments
3. Aim to have you debt-free in 12 to 48 months (Depending upon the program chosen)
4. Improve your credit score (upon completing the program)

At Defense Lawyers P.A., we are an interstate law firm with state bar license attorneys in your state. Our attorneys practice civil defense litigation and routinely defend consumers against credit card companies as well as collection agencies. After everything is done, we make it capable for you to work on your credit!

Upon retaining Defense Lawyers P.A., we will:

1. Contact each individual creditor listed within the agreement.

2. Send documents to your creditors, including but not limited to, Letters of Representation and Limited Power of Attorneys.

3. Our firm searches for violations of the various federal consumer protection acts such as TILA, Federal Debt Collection Practice Acts, etc.

We will contact your creditors and try to reach the best possible solution available to you. We will always discuss your options with you, whether that is a lump sum settlement, low monthly payment-plans (while still trying to reduce the total balance), or some other acceptable option that you approve.

Your Estimated Program Arrangements:

Total Debt Balance: $70,000

Estimated escrow and retainer combined: $38,500

Total Estimated Savings: $31,500

Monthly Payment Options: $1,624.16 per month for 24 months
Monthly Payment Options: $1,303.32 per month for 30 months
Monthly Payment Options: $1,089.43 per month for 36 months

We advise you to research any firm prior to retaining them to represent you. We invite you to confirm the record of excellence we have achieved. For your convenience, here are links to help you:

We are an accredited business with an A rating from the BBB. Just click this link – http://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/attorneys/defense-lawyers-pa-in-boca-raton-fl-90005847

Also, check on the license and complaint status, of the firm’s principal attorney, by visiting the bar association’s website – http://www.floridabar.org/names.nsf/0/B501A8B045C9E5E38525720D004613CB?OpenDocument

I hope this helps confirm the trust we have earned with our clients.

Respectfully,

Mark Avey

Phone: 800-779-0233 ext.107
Fax: 888-493-0087
www.mydefenselaw.com

———-

Mark called me Saturday (he’s a hard worker!) and we arranged for him to call me Monday at 1 pm. It’s now 4:30 and he hasn’t called. I had told him previously that I wanted to speak with Mr. Stein and review the contract before signing anything. He told me that they “have a process…”

I think I’ll abuse him a bit and see where it goes.

Stay away. Stay far away!

And, just to add more certainty, here’s an email I sent and the response I received from a bankruptcy attorney:

———-

So, there you have it, bro’.

I do solemnly believe that these people and companies are scum and should be avoided at all costs:

1. Anthony Peters – August Belmont Company, Licensed Telephone Salesperson
2. Mike Brugnolotti – August Belmont Company, Licensed Telephone Salesperson & Licensed Legal Expense Insurance Salesperson
3. Paul A. Herman – The Law Offices of Paul A. Herman, not yet disbarred (but give him time…)
4. Larry Diodato – steroid freak, and formerly registered agent for August Belmont Company
5. Robby Birnbaum – front lawyer for August Belmont Company & Esquire Legal Support
6. Howard Fienmel – he’s listed on the phone tree at Esquire Legal Support
7. Peter Yurkins – August Belmont Company – Administrative support
8. Lee Andrew Stein – Defense Lawyers, P.A. (also not yet disbarred…, but again, give him time…)
9. Mark Avey – Defense Lawyers, P.A.

Reader Contributes Post About August Belmont & Company, The Paul A. Herman Law Firm & Defense Lawyers by

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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