A reader sent in a recent contract for services from the debt relief company August Belmont. The tipster (send in your tips here) wanted me to read and review the agreement.
The August Belmont & Company services are described by them on their site. They say, “August Belmont & Company is a Private Lawyer Referral Service that educates and refers consumers to attorneys, professional service providers and insurance companies; that provide quality legal services, legal expense insurance, tax assistance, and mortgage assistance.” – Source
What follows is a summary of the highlights of the alleged agreement.
According to the agreement, the consumer is not being referred to an attorney for credit counseling, debt settlement or debt negotiation services. The contract states the goal is to “review various contracts that you have entered into with third parties so as to determine what your rights and responsibilities are under the terms of the contracts. In the event that any party to the contract (creditors, collection companies, credit reporting agencies, furnishers of information) has breached the contract or violated one or more of your federal rights, you desire that the attorney initiate a dispute, litigation or arbitration on your behalf.”
The consumer states they understand the creditors may continue to contact them.
Any legal fees are paid directly to the servicing attorney, the agreement says.
The agreement then includes a proposed limited legal services agreement from attorney Paul A. Herman from The Law Offices of Paul A. Herman.
According to the agreement, attorney Herman is charging the consumer many thousands of dollars for these services. As a courtesy for the consumer, the attorney has agreed to finance the massive fee at 0% APR for a number of months.
The attorney services are financed at 0% by a company that is located at the same address as August Belmont & Company. The company financing this is Esquire Litigation Support. Essentially it appears Esquire Litigation Support states they pay out the thousands in advance fees to the attorney on behalf of the consumer.
Esquire Litigation Support’s managing member is Esquire Litigation Support Partners at the same address. The company was formed on September 23, 2010 by Larry Diodato. – Source
The name ESQUIRE LITIGATION SUPPORT PARTNERS is a fictitious name that is registered to Ed Cherry and Larry Diodato. – Source
Both Cherry and Diodato have checkered pasts. Cherry recently filed bankruptcy. See Ed Cherry, of Hess Kennedy Fame and Related to Fidelity Land Trust, Files Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Ed Cherry Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Update. John Wright of PiggyBankBlog.com is currently working on a larger story involving Diodato and Cherry, as he mentioned in his comment, here.
Esquire Litigation Support, LLC does hold a retail installment seller license, RS9907101, that was issued on May 20, 2011 and expires on December 31, 2012.
The finance agreement says that payment processing will be handled by Meracord, the former NoteWorld escrow company.
The consumer was also enrolled in a credit repair company for an additional monthly charge. The tipster (send in your tips here) says that when all the monthly fees are combined, the total fee the consumer will pay for these dispute and review services will be over 40 percent of the debt enrolled.
As a coincidence, the address of August Belmont and Company is also the address of The Fidelity Land Trust Company who I have written about recently.
August Belmont and Company, LLC was formed on October 15, 2012 by Lawrence “Larry” Diodato as the authorized representative of August Belmont Partners. – Source
Unfortunately the State of Florida does not have a fictitious name or company registered to do business that I could locate under the name August Belmont Partners. I sent an email to the attorney for August Belmont and Company, Robby Birnbaum, who has stated he represents the company. An answer had not been received about August Belmont Partners by the time of publication. I will update the story with his response when it is received.