Law Enforcement Descends on OC Weekly Building!
Brandon Ferguson

Law Enforcement Descends on OC Weekly Building!

UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 6, 2011: We've got an update on the story here.

ORIGINAL POST, ___: Usually, when an aspiring journalist imagines the excitement of his job, he has visions of far-flung battlefields or back alley crime scenes in some gritty urban environment, not the sterile office-park building that houses the Costa Mesa newsroom where he works.

But that's exactly where the action unfolded yesterday, when several agents representing the California Department of Justice and at least one federal agent descended on our building. Damn straight we put a blockade around Moxley's office.

Law Enforcement Descends on OC Weekly Building!
Courtesy California Department of Justice

Thankfully, Big Brother didn't target us this time. The agents carried out seized boxes from our neighbor's office, the law firm of Anthony Kassas (with whom we share a common lobby), and corralled all of its well-heeled employees in the back parking lot before escorting them off the property. We tried to chat with four officers standing in our front lobby, some with shiny badges dangling from their necks. Though they were amiable and joked about looking for some tall guy with glasses, they said they couldn't discuss the operation.

But today, the California Department of Justice announced it has sued the law offices of  Kramer & Kaslow, two other unnamed law firms, three unnamed lawyers and 14 other defendants for what Attorney General Kamala Harris views as deceptive marketing practices, namely coercing homeowners to join "mass joinder law suits" against their mortgage lenders.

Yesterday's operation involved 19 DOJ agents, and 42 agents and other personnel from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development office of Inspector General, California State Bar and the Office of the Receiver, all of whom were dispatched to 14 locations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

According to a press release made available by the DOJ today, 16 bank accounts were seized.

"Defendants deceptively led homeowners to believe that by joining these lawsuits, they would stop pending foreclosures, reduce their loan balances or interest rates, obtain money damages and even receive title to their homes free and clear of their existing mortgages," the release alleges. "Consumers who paid to join the mass joinder lawsuits were frequently unable to receive answers to simple questions, such as whether they had been added to the lawsuit or even to establish contact with defendants ... When consumers contacted the defendants, they were given advice by sales agents, not attorneys."

We'd like to say we feel bad for the firm, whose doors have been shuttered, but the sight of an empty parking lot free of sports cars zipping through the spaces without regard for other drivers was nice.  Before the law firm arrived in this building, there was no need for signs to be placed around the smoking area asking folks not to spit on the handrails. And it was always a bit disheartening when you would encounter one of the nicely dressed employees in the halls and offered a friendly hello only to be looked at like something that had crawled from a storm drain. We wish them the best of luck.


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