William Singler, owner of American Legal Process, admitted in Nassau County Supreme Court that he knew some of his employees didn’t properly serve court papers the company was hired to deliver. Prosecutors said that left many debtors unaware they were being sued until their cases were over.
A pending lawsuit by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo seeks to toss out nearly 100,000 legal judgments related to cases on which the company worked.
“Many (victims) had their bank accounts frozen, their wages garnished and liens put on their homes, all because they were denied their day in court,” Cuomo said Friday.
Singler faces a year in jail when he is sentenced March 24.
“He takes responsibility for what occurred at his company and the actions of the process servers who worked there,” Singler’s lawyer, Corey Winograd, said.
The July lawsuit filed by Cuomo in state Supreme Court in Buffalo accuses 35 law firms and two debt collection companies of failing to ensure that servers were following the rules after hiring ALP to serve summonses and complaints. It asks the court to vacate all default judgments they obtained after debtors failed to respond to lawsuits in cases ALP worked on.
According to prosecutors, ALP employees routinely made only a cursory attempt to locate debtors, then gave up and submitted false paperwork claiming they had served them the legal documents.
The scheme was revealed in documents that made it clear the company couldn’t have visited all the locations where it claimed it had served papers. One ALP employee claimed to have handed a lawsuit to someone in Brooklyn at 8:19 a.m., then served a second lawsuit 400 miles away in Jamestown, N.Y., just one minute later.
Winograd said Singler did not himself serve papers, but relied on dozens of employees around the state.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.