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Michigan AG Nessel Announces Guilty Plea in Fake Mortgage Assistance Scheme
May 01, 2019
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced Lawrence Adell Sefa, 65, of Fenton, has pleaded guilty to racketeering. The guilty plea was made in front of Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Mariam Cavanaugh and follows charges filed against him in 2017 for using a fake mortgage assistance scheme to steal tens of thousands of dollars from 33 Michigan residents who were facing foreclosures.
Between 2012 and 2016, Sefa – through his company LAS Loan Assistance Centers – promised victims that he could negotiate mortgage modifications and save their homes from foreclosure. Instead of delivering on the services he promised, Sefa did little to nothing to obtain modifications for the victims and many lost their homes in the process. Following an investigation by the Department of Attorney General, it was determined a large portion of Sefa’s clients, in addition to those who already filed complaints, did not receive the promised services from Sefa or LAS.
“At a time when Michigan families are on the verge of losing their homes, the last thing they should have to worry about is Michigan businesses that take advantage of them in the process,” Nessel said. “These are hardworking men and women who needed help, but instead got cheated out of money they could not afford to lose. My office is dedicated to protecting these residents and ensuring bad actors are brought to justice.”
Sefa pleaded guilty to one count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise, a 20-year felony late last month. The plea agreement includes three key stipulations:
- If Sefa pays the entire restitution of $116,615 at or before sentencing, he agrees to be sentenced to 12 months of incarceration;
- If Sefa pays half of the restitution at or before sentencing, his sentencing guidelines will be 24-40 months of incarceration; or
- If Sefa pays no restitution at or before sentencing, his sentencing guidelines will be 30-60 months of incarceration.
Any restitution that remains unpaid at the time of sentencing will be paid to qualifying victims out of the $97 Million Homeowner Protection Fund to ensure they receive timely payments. The State of Michigan will then seek reimbursement from Sefa.
Sefa will be sentenced by Judge Cavanaugh Friday, Aug. 2, 2019.