The collection law firm in Michigan charged with conducting a criminal enterprise yesterday pleaded no contest to a charge of maintaining a criminal enterprise during a pretrial hearing and was sentenced to full restitution to the individuals who were improperly garnished and had not yet been repaid because three attorneys at the firm allegedly forged documents to make it look like the individuals were properly served with summonses and complaints, even though none of the debtors could be located.
The Fishman Group was ordered to repay $148,552.68 in restitution, as well as $68 in costs and a crime victim fee of $130.
“The perpetrators of these crimes represent some of the worst of what the legal profession has to offer,” said Dana Nessel, the Attorney General of Michigan, in a statement. “For their own financial gain, these attorneys preyed on vulnerable people who lacked sufficient knowledge about the legal system.
The AG’s office noted in its press release that maintaining a criminal enterprise is a felony that is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Three attorneys from the firm, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., were arrested back in 2021 and charged with racketeering and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors alleged that the trio forged paperwork in at least 30 cases that was filed in state courts stating that individuals had been properly served in debt collection lawsuits, but none of the debtors were able to be located. The scheme allowed the attorneys to obtain default judgments, which they then allegedly used to attach garnishments to individuals’ wages and other income.
The attorneys and the firm are also fighting a lawsuit filed against them by individuals who had their wages garnished.
Ryan Fishman, one of the three attorneys and the son of Marc Fishman who was president of The Fishman Group, is still facing charges in two counties, according to the Attorney General of Michigan.