For those of us who have been involved in the debt relief industry, there are a couple of landmark events that created havoc for the industry and consumers.
As an industry, if we are going to burn something to the ground and harm consumers, it’s going to happen with conviction.
But one old example that was the early poster child for the failure of advanced fee debt settlement companies was Hess Kennedy. That’s a story I began covering in 2008.
I thought that mess was all over, but I was wrong. According to a document sent in by a tipster (send in your tips here) the Chase Bank action against Consumer Law Center of Delray Beach and others, is still in the works.
On July 29, 2015, Chase Bank was awarded “Summary Judgment on Counts I, III, and VI against Defendant Edward Cherry, a/k/a Edward T. Kennedy,” and a/k/a Edward Gregory Steadman (Cherry).
All the other Defendants in the Chase case had concluded their participation. Those defendants included Hess Kennedy Chartered, Laura Hess, Laura Hess & Associates, Hess Kennedy Holdings, Hess Kennedy Company Chartered BWI, Consumer Law Center, The Campos Chartered Law Firm, Legal Debt Center, Jeffrey Campos, and Jeff Campos.
The court document says “Cherry was the owner, officer, manager, member, and/or director of three of the Hess Kennedy Entities. The Hess Kennedy entities operated several interrelated debt elimination/settlement companies. The companies were composed of law firms responsible for debt settlement, which Hess, a lawyer, operated, and a company for processing payments, managed by non-lawyer Cherry.”
The bad news about the enterprise and the allegations of how the companies and individuals harmed consumers are contained, at length, in this court document.
In closing a chapter in that former Chase case, the Court ordered “that Defendant Edward Cherry, a/k/a Edward T. Kennedy, n/k/a Edward Gregory Steadman, is permanently enjoined from:
- Engaging in consumer debt-related services, whether secured or unsecured, including debt settlement services, debt management serives or any other service related to the consolidation, invalidation, reduction or dispute of consumer debts, either directly or indirectly, whether as the practice of law through a law office or law firm or as a business through any type of business or entity that is not a law officer, law form, or engaged in the practice of law.
- Representing and/or soliciting through print, electronia, or verbal advertising or communication, either directly or indirectly, that he offers, provides, or otherwise renders consumer debt-related services, whether secured or unsecured, including debt settlement services, debt management services or any other service related to the consolidation, invalidation, reduction or dispute of consumer debts, either directly or indirectly, whether as the practice of law through a law office or law firm or as a business through any type of business or entity that is not a law office, law firm or engaged in the practice of law.
- Accepting, receiving or otherwise obtaining payment from consumers for consumer debt-related services…
- Sharing, publishing, selling or otherwise disseminating the methods or processes of Hess Kennedy Company, Inc., The Consumer Law Center, LLC, or Legal Debt Center and/or any related or successor entities, or selling, training or educating any other person or entity regarding debt settlement or elimination, including, without limitation, credit, unsecured debt elimination; and
- Interfering in any way with the contractual relationships and obligations between Chase and its cardmembers, including, without limitation, advising, encouraging, or suggesting to cardmembers that they not make payments to Chase.”
Will this action mark the end of the actions of the dude now known as Edward Steadman? I doubt it, the guy is a hyper entrepreneur who is always motivated, it seems, to start on the next grand adventure.
Even if Chase was to use this court order to move Eddie out of the debt relief business, as I just covered here, there is another entity ready to take his place.
If I was a betting man I’d say the odds are pretty good that Cherry might spin this action by saying it is proof that creditors are afraid of the information he has to share and work that into some new strategy involving some type of consumer debt. Cherry might have been slapped by Chase but Cherry or Steadman or whatever name he is going to use next, is not a quitter.
To support that claim all I have to do is look at the variation Ed was involved with after the debt settlement business. Fidelity Law Trust in Florida would up getting a lot of negative attention. Follow that soap opera, here.
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