Senior scam costs firms $6.4 million | The Columbus Dispatch

The Ohio Supreme Court imposed an unprecedented $6.4 million fine yesterday against two companies that allegedly swindled thousands of senior citizens in Ohio, but the unrepentant president of the companies said he'd fight the ruling and accused the court of railroading him. Full Story
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Insider Comments

Ladera Ranch, CA

#1 Oct 15, 2009
American Family Denied Due Process
Corruption and Collusion Abound In the State Of Ohio
Tape Recording of Panel Chairman’s Ohio Violations
Unfortunately, this ruling by the Supreme Court is mired in collusion as evidenced by a tape recording of the three Panel Judges in this case against American Family. The three panel judges’ statements from the Board of the Unauthorized Practice of Law denying due process were tape-recorded during a pretrial conference.
The Chairman, James Irvin, was recorded stating,“I made a promise that when I leave this board, this case will be over”.
James Irvin, whom made this promise, was serving a term set to expire at the end of that year. It is clear that the only mechanism at the disposal of this board to conclude the matter as it was pending in front of the Board, by the conclusion of Chairman Irvin’s term, was to grant Summary Judgment, which the board did two months later on December 21st, 2008. This was at the tail end of the Chair’s term and as promised to the other board members by the Chair. In light of these facts, it is clear that Summary Judgment was granted against American Family Prepaid Legal Corporation by a biased judicial body whom clearly had a fixed anticipatory judgment thereby denying him Due Process.
Determination of judgment before a biased judge is fundamentally unfair and denies a litigant due process of law. Judicial bias has been described as,“a hostile feeling or spirit of ill will or undue friendship or favoritism toward one of the litigants or his attorney with the formation of a fixed anticipatory judgment on the part of the judge, as contradistinguished from an open state of mind which will be governed by the law and the facts.” State v Felder, 2006-Ohio-5332,¶ 29 quoting State v LaMar, 2002-Ohio-2128.
It is obvious that the board which granted summary judgment against American Family was clearly tainted by this bias and had formed a fixed anticipatory judgment regarding summary judgment at the time of the pretrial hearing, which took place prior to respondent having an opportunity to respond to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
Further statements from the other panel judges were recorded:
* The board commented on the intelligence of Mr. Norman, stating that he “didn’t come across as being very smart”.
* Board Member Lynn Day admitted to “looking stuff up about them online” during the pretrial conference, which not only displays a lack of professionalism, but clearly evidences that the board was considering evidence outside of that which was properly submitted for their consideration in the matter.
* Panel Member Don Hunt stated that he had,“white knuckles from not speaking out” during the conference, which does not describe a neutral fact finder
* Finally, and most egregious, is the statement of the Board’s Chair, James Irvin, who declared,“I made a promise that when I leave this board, this case will be over” which Board Members Susan Miles and Don Hunt then concurred with. This is a clear indication that the board exhibited bias and had formed a fixed, anticipatory judgment in this case, especially when the proper context surrounding this statement is provided.
Insider Comments

Ladera Ranch, CA

#2 Oct 15, 2009
In addition to this tape recording, evidence reflects the Columbus Bar Association and its lawyer Joyce Edelman lied to the Ohio Supreme Court and other tribunals in regards to the evidence they “claimed” they had in possession, but later stated they did not in order to cover up another lie from the CBA during a deposition.
Additionally, in other state jurisdictions suing American Family, approximately 25 plan members testified under oath there was no high-pressure and all the salespeople were polite and courteous. These are the real facts covered up by a corrupt judicial system in Ohio.
Obviously, this Supreme Court decision is clouded and cannot be relied upon. Additional collusion and corruption in this case will be exposed. The following are excerpts from the recorded conversations:
James Irvin: Are we all still there?
Lynne Day: Yes
Don Hunt: Don
Susan Miles: Yes, Susan's here
Tammy: Tammy's here
James Irvin: Do we know if everyone else hung up? Is there any way to know that?
Susan Miles: There is not a way to know that.
Laughter from all members of the panel
Don Hunt: They didn't come across as being very smart to pull things across on us from my perspective
James Irvin: Joyce can't get default judgment she still has to put on a case so at the end of the day I don't think it's going to be difficult for Joyce to go after the company the question is going to be what she does with the individuals
Don Hunt: Yah
Don Hunt: I, I, I couldn't believe I was hearing the conversation, but
Don Hunt: Yah, Lynne you're awful quiet
Laughter from Susan Miles and Lynne Day
Lynne Day: I have to admit I was kind of looking stuff up about them on line while you were in the conference because I was getting so frustrated I was taking my time your patients was incredible
Don Hunt: I've got to tell you I'm pretty outspoken and I sit here and I've got white knuckles from not speaking out you handled it super well James
Susan Miles: I agree James you did a great job
James Irvin: Thanks
Susan Miles: Great job
James Irvin: Thanks, I just want to get this thing (laughter from Susan Miles) done and you know you know I feel bad for the individuals because you get the impression that Kegler left them out there hanging and
Don Hunt: Yah
Susan Miles: Yah
Tammy: Yah right
Lynne Day: I agree
James Irvin: All right I think that's it
Susan Miles: Thank you
James Irvin: Thanks everybody have a good weekend
Don Hunt: How long how longs this thing been going on?
James Irvin: How long?
Don Hunt: Three years
James Irvin: Technically since 03
Don Hunt: Okay
James Irvin: I made a promise that when I leave this board this case will be over
Laughter from Don Hunt
Susan Miles: Sounds good
Don Hunt: I hope I want it to be over to (laughter from panel members)
James Irvin: Thank you
Susan Miles: Thank you all
Insider Comments

Ladera Ranch, CA

#3 Oct 15, 2009
A Prepaid Legal Plan registered with the state of Ohio is not a living trust. American Family sold access to legal services through a prepaid legal plan. Plan Members that received trust documents did so after consultation and determination by a licensed Ohio attorney. Only Attorneys drafted and prepared legal documents.

The Panel Chairman's recording, demonstrating no due process is the real crime hear. All Ohio citizens should be more worried about Ohio's justice system.
Insider Comments

Ladera Ranch, CA

#4 Oct 15, 2009
American Family's legal plan was registered with the Ohio Supreme Court and accepted by the Court as a bonafide legal plan in 2001. American Family maintained their registration requirements annually.
American Family purchased what is known as "informational" or "topical" direct mail advertisements sold by advertising agencies. Topical advertising is one of the most common forms of direct mail advertising. No company names are printed on these advertisements because they only solicit people interested in receiving information. Once a person replies to the solicitation, the advertisement company sells these replies to companies that can provide the requested information and subsequently make an offer for a product the company sells. American Family purchased these type of advertisements and telephoned the Ohio consumers that sent in replies. Immediately upon speaking with a consumer, the telemarketer identified the company name of American Family. If an appointment was scheduled with the consumer, the consumer was asked to write down the full company name and the name of the representative that would be visiting with them. The Supreme Court's statement regarding non disclosure of the company name is inacurrate and deposition testimony from numerous witnesses confirms the inaccuracy.
All the evidence in this case only demonstrates that American Family sales representatives provided general information about a variety of legal issues - no legal advice was given to a person about their specific circumstances by a non attorney. The thrust of the "presentation" was there is such a variety of legal issues and remedies, how can you make sense of it all - with American Family's legal plan you can have access to licensed Ohio attorneys to discuss your individual needs and determine with the attorney what's best for you! The legal plan provided services in addition to estate planning and living trusts, such as Medicaid Planning, etc. The $1995.00 was very reasonable for all the services available at free and discounted rates, and that fee was a one-time payment to have the legal plan for the rest of their lives! NO ONE SOLD TRUSTS OR PROMOTED THE SALE OF TRUSTS IN THIS CASE OTHER THAN A LICENSED OHIO ATTORNEY.
The Columbus Bar Association in their allegations were very confused. They stated at different times that the Plan Attorney either never, seldom, sometimes, or on occaision didn't speak with plan members. However, these false allegations are contradicted by deposition testimony under oath by the two plan attorneys in question in this case. Both testified that they completed extensive consultation with plan members, made a determination if legal documents should be produced, and directed and supervised the production of the documents. Basically, all legal advice and documents were provided through licensed Ohio attorneys. This is the only evidence in this case and the Supreme Courts statements are not accurate.
All this information can be found on the Supreme Court's website. The website has all the motions and objections available for reading. The information above can be found in documents throughout the Supreme Courts website.
Funny the irony in life - the Supreme Court has evidence on their website contradicting their own ruling!
Insider Comments

Ladera Ranch, CA

#5 Oct 15, 2009
Attorneys that participate as plan attorneys of a legal plan can afford to give deep discounts off their usual and customary rates. The reason is the attorney has no advertising costs, or any costs what-so-ever, in obtaining a new client through the legal plan. When an attorney has no "overhead" they can pass those savings on to the plan member. That is the purpose of a legal plan - reduce costs and make access to legal services more affordable.

Heritage Marketing exclusively sold "principal guaranteed" indexed annuities. Heritage Marketing, through its insurance sales, saved elderly Ohio consumers from hundreds of millions of dollars in losses in this down economy. Not one Ohio elderly consumer has lost a penny from insurance investments sold by Heritage Marketing Agents. Heritage Marketing has perserved the elderly's life savings and future inheritances for their beneficiaries.

How about a happy "shout out" to American Family and Heritage Marketing for having honestly and ethically saved Ohio elderly citizens HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!!!

The Supreme Court ruled that the sale of a legal plan that provides estate planning services (such as preparation of a living trust) IS THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW. The ruling has now set a precedence in Ohio.

This means the sale of all prepaid legal plans in Ohio can be considered the unauthorized practice of law.

All prepaid legal plans may soon be out of business in the state of Ohio due to the Supreme Court's ruling!
Just me but ---

Amanda, OH

#6 Oct 15, 2009
How about shouting the scam perpetuated against the susceptable elderly!!!

They deserve to be protected and to have their money back!

Good job Ohio Supreme Court!

Insider Comments: Who would have the patience to read your ramblings... evidently you are in a position to rip off senior citizens too... how much money have you scammed...?
Spanky the chipmunk

Columbus, OH

#7 Oct 15, 2009
Did some one say "NUTS"???????
Insider Comments

Ladera Ranch, CA

#8 Oct 15, 2009
Just me but --- wrote:
How about shouting the scam perpetuated against the susceptable elderly!!!
They deserve to be protected and to have their money back!
Good job Ohio Supreme Court!
Insider Comments: Who would have the patience to read your ramblings... evidently you are in a position to rip off senior citizens too... how much money have you scammed...?
Scam. Not what I have heard.

In the documents filed in this case there is a legal opinion from one of the most recognized attorneys in the state of Ohio - Geoffrey Stern. Mr. Stern was formerly in charge of Ohio's Disciplinary Counsel and Chairman of the Ohio Bar Associations Committee on Ethics. In his legal opinion drafted in 2002, he states his opinion that American Family's operation does not constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

I ask you, why would such a recognized attorney write this opinion for companies that are a SCAM?

In this case, there is no evidence that any seniir consumer was "ripped off". In fact, because of the bias of the Chairman of the Panel James Ervin ending the case without a hearing, not one Ohio senior was diposed or testified under oath. So, there is no evidence what-so-ever that any senior citizen was ripped off! Instead, Heritage Marketing helped preserve hundreds of millions of dollars of Ohio senior citizens life savings through the sale of guaranteed principal annuities. Many of the senior citizens avoided huge losses from the economic recession.

These are the facts. Look them up on the Supreme Courts website. It's all their in black and white. Only attorneys provided legal advice and every plan member received the services they paid for, or were issued a refund by the so-called scam company.
Balls Deep

Columbus, OH

#9 Oct 15, 2009
Good Job Supreme Court!! Send those scam skanks back to Cali where they are free to prey on the fruits and nuts.

BTW: Insider Comments (we know who you are) you might as well start packing your bags for South America now.
cgood

Cape Coral, FL

#10 Oct 15, 2009
Actually, I used to have Pre-Paid Legal and ALL legal work and advice was done by an attorney. I kept the plan for several years. I do believe that the judicial system is corrupt in this action and it's not the first time allegations and headlines are how they win a case.
Just me but --- wrote:
How about shouting the scam perpetuated against the susceptable elderly!!!
They deserve to be protected and to have their money back!
Good job Ohio Supreme Court!
Insider Comments: Who would have the patience to read your ramblings... evidently you are in a position to rip off senior citizens too... how much money have you scammed...?
NoNonsense

Columbus, OH

#11 Oct 15, 2009
It seems pretty obvious that "Insider Comments" is a part of the whole scam. Just like the auto warranty co's, loan modification services and their like, these companies provide very little service for what they make you pay for. I can see why they didn't think he was that smart as well. You read through all that he posted and there is NOTHING that provides concrete proof of a miscarriage of justice on the part of the Ohio court. Just Insider Comments obviously biased interpretation of events. But then we expect that with greedy criminal types -- they are simply not capable of the moral and ethical thought processes that can recognize they are wrong and have hurt people.
cgood

Cape Coral, FL

#12 Oct 15, 2009
I disagree, I think that when media is biased and a court can impose a fine without a trial "allegedly swindled" then the only recourse you have is through the blogs to get your side out. Look how many here already believe the court over the company just by the news article. Really, believe me, you don't want to believe everything you read or hear on the news.
NoNonsense wrote:
It seems pretty obvious that "Insider Comments" is a part of the whole scam. Just like the auto warranty co's, loan modification services and their like, these companies provide very little service for what they make you pay for. I can see why they didn't think he was that smart as well. You read through all that he posted and there is NOTHING that provides concrete proof of a miscarriage of justice on the part of the Ohio court. Just Insider Comments obviously biased interpretation of events. But then we expect that with greedy criminal types -- they are simply not capable of the moral and ethical thought processes that can recognize they are wrong and have hurt people.
Enzyte Bob

Reynoldsburg, OH

#13 Oct 15, 2009
cgood wrote:
Actually, I used to have Pre-Paid Legal and ALL legal work and advice was done by an attorney. I kept the plan for several years. I do believe that the judicial system is corrupt in this action and it's not the first time allegations and headlines are how they win a case.
<quoted text>
Who cares what you believe?

You are not allowed to practice law without a license in Ohio. You are not allowed to share fees with a non=licensed party.

The reason for licensing is to protect the public from people who don't know what they are doing. That's why you need a license to be a doctor, dentist, podiatrist, architect, attorney, engineer, accountant, real estate broker, stockbroker, barber, etc. That's why you need a license to sell liquor, drive, carry a concealed weapon, etc.

You people sold trusts to people who didn't need them and padded your pockets. You are no different than a doctor who installs stents in people who don't need them. That's why the Supreme Court just slapped you around.

Good for them!
Enzyte Bob

Reynoldsburg, OH

#14 Oct 15, 2009
cgood wrote:
I disagree, I think that when media is biased and a court can impose a fine without a trial "allegedly swindled" then the only recourse you have is through the blogs to get your side out. Look how many here already believe the court over the company just by the news article. Really, believe me, you don't want to believe everything you read or hear on the news.
<quoted text>
You sold trusts to people without a pot to p!ss in, and you called the courts biased? I will repeat: Drafting trusts is the practice of law. You cannot solicit clients in Ohio and draft trusts for them without an Ohio law license, period, end of story.
Enzyte Bob

Reynoldsburg, OH

#15 Oct 15, 2009
NoNonsense wrote:
It seems pretty obvious that "Insider Comments" is a part of the whole scam. Just like the auto warranty co's, loan modification services and their like, these companies provide very little service for what they make you pay for.
Yes, that's exactly why the Ohio Supreme Court shut down these operations, because they take advantage of people and provide services of little or dubious value. And it's another example of bottom fishers preying on the poor. I just love this mentality people have that they are entitled to take $2,000 from you without providing anything of value. I also love this mentality that thes plans are entitled to take 2/3 of the fees as their marketing costs and justify it based on the fact that the attorney doesn't have any advertising costs.

Say what you want about lawyers, but if you come into my office I'm not going to "sell" anything to you. I am in a position of trust, you are relying on my expert advice, and I take that very seriously. If someone needs a trust, I will tell them so and why, but I'm not going to push them into one if they don't need it.
happy client

Columbus, OH

#16 Oct 15, 2009
I am a client of theirs, as are family and friends of mine, and and have been quite pleased with my service. My annuities have made money in a time when others have lost as much as half of their retirement funds. I am not sure why we are even reading about the annuities as part of an un-authorized practice of law case? If something was wrong with my annuities, would not the Ohio Department of Insurance or Attorney General been involved?
I also found it interesting that the Dispatch writes "the money won't automatically go to the victims". In the very next sentence they say it will go to the attorneys an for further education! Nothing will go to the clients.
Enzyte Bob

Reynoldsburg, OH

#17 Oct 15, 2009
happy client wrote:
I am a client of theirs, as are family and friends of mine, and and have been quite pleased with my service. My annuities have made money in a time when others have lost as much as half of their retirement funds. I am not sure why we are even reading about the annuities as part of an un-authorized practice of law case? If something was wrong with my annuities, would not the Ohio Department of Insurance or Attorney General been involved?
I also found it interesting that the Dispatch writes "the money won't automatically go to the victims". In the very next sentence they say it will go to the attorneys an for further education! Nothing will go to the clients.
I will repeat: Drafting trusts is the practice of law. You cannot solicit clients in Ohio and draft trusts for them without an Ohio law license. Period, end of story.
Insider Comments

Ladera Ranch, CA

#18 Oct 15, 2009
happy client wrote:
I am a client of theirs, as are family and friends of mine, and and have been quite pleased with my service. My annuities have made money in a time when others have lost as much as half of their retirement funds. I am not sure why we are even reading about the annuities as part of an un-authorized practice of law case? If something was wrong with my annuities, would not the Ohio Department of Insurance or Attorney General been involved?
I also found it interesting that the Dispatch writes "the money won't automatically go to the victims". In the very next sentence they say it will go to the attorneys an for further education! Nothing will go to the clients.
Thankyou "Happy Client". Finally, the State of Ohio has heard from an actual client. Throughout the years of this case, no consumers ever testified or were cross examined. The Supreme Court's ruling had no testimony from Ohio senior citizens to support their ruling. If the Panel Chairman wasn't biased with his promise to end the case before his term expired, there would have been an actual hearing and consumers like yourself would have been able to testify how happy they were with American Family and Heritage Marketing. You are the first anyone has heard from!! Glad to here your annuities have made money and your funds are safe. Thousands of other Ohio citizens purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in the same annuities, and all their money is also safe and protected.

Additionally, in the state of Minnesota legal action against American Family, about 25 senior consumers testified they were very happy with their annuites and all of them said they had no high-pressure; and that all the sales representatives were polite and courteous.

Finally, the truth (based on actual evidence which was not supplied to the Supreme Court)is beginning to surface!
Another Lawyer

Westerville, OH

#19 Oct 15, 2009
Insider Comments wrote:
<quoted text>
Thankyou "Happy Client". Finally, the State of Ohio has heard from an actual client. Throughout the years of this case, no consumers ever testified or were cross examined. The Supreme Court's ruling had no testimony from Ohio senior citizens to support their ruling. If the Panel Chairman wasn't biased with his promise to end the case before his term expired, there would have been an actual hearing and consumers like yourself would have been able to testify how happy they were with American Family and Heritage Marketing. You are the first anyone has heard from!! Glad to here your annuities have made money and your funds are safe. Thousands of other Ohio citizens purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in the same annuities, and all their money is also safe and protected.
Additionally, in the state of Minnesota legal action against American Family, about 25 senior consumers testified they were very happy with their annuites and all of them said they had no high-pressure; and that all the sales representatives were polite and courteous.
Finally, the truth (based on actual evidence which was not supplied to the Supreme Court)is beginning to surface!
Let me repeat again, since you apparently can't understand simple English:

The Supreme Court gets to decide who is allowed to practice law and under what conditions. The Supreme Court requires that anyone practicing law in the state is required to have an Ohio law license. To get/maintain a law license, the Supreme Court requires that you meet certain educational criteria, pass the bar exam and maintain a certain amount of hours of continuing education each year.

Obtaining/maintaining a license is not a right, it is a privilege. The Supreme Court has the right to set conditions upon which it will grant you that license. Many of those conditions were stated above, other conditions include issues regarding loyalty to the client and sharing of fees with non-licensed parties.

Drafting trusts is the practice of law. To practice law, you must be a licensed attorney in the State of Ohio and you must meet minimum standards of representation to the client. In other words, you have to put the client's interests ahead of American Family/Heritage and you are not allowed to share fees with non attorneys.

At the end of the day, the Supreme Court has the right to decide what constitutes the practice of law, who is allowed to practice law, and how they do it. Furthermore, Ohio courts are known nationally as being conservative, yet fiercely protective of consumer rights in this state. You saved people no money ($1,500 -$2,500 is a standard fee for drafting trusts) and you sold a lot of trusts to people who didn't need them. That's why the court came down on you.

Stick to selling insurance and peddling investments and leave the lawyering to someone else.

The decision was correct.
Curious

United States

#20 Oct 15, 2009
It is amazing to me how so many have difficulty understanding what took place in this case.. it is pain and simple a matter of dollars and who gets them. It has absolutly nothing to do wth a scam as the Bar Association used as a foil to get the emotions turned against a legitimate business operation. The smoke screen ofthey used is "You have to be a Licensed attorney to Practice law" is correct and NO ONE IS CHALLENGING THAT. As I understand the case, American Family used a LICENSED ATTORNEY who agreed to handle all the matters requiring an attorney,such as the preparaton of trust,etc,so there is not a violation there. The case is simply because the company has had agreat deal of success and it is obvious they generated a lot of business that was referred to those attorneies that agred to handle the legal matters for the clients at a set ,discounted fee,meaning simply that the greedy lawyers and the bar associationsaw this as taking money they thought was theirs so they decided to fabricate a case, take it to the Supreme court where they knew their "FRATERNITY BROTHERS" who are also members of the bar would side with them. The transcripts provided by the insider of recorded conversations prove collusion. I have no dog in this fight and never have,but I am a professional that uses attorneys,CPA's and other professionals in the course of my busines. This case syinks to high heaven and was brought forward for one reason only and that was to put these folks out of business so th attorneies in Ohio can cotinue to reap millions of dollars doing what they have always done. That is to have zero competition and screw anyone who attempts to swim in their pool. Acomment yesterday stated that the Court system in Ohio is not a Kangaroo court...AND I AGREE with that statement. To call it a kangaroo court wuld be an insult to every Kangaroo in the world....

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