Felony Charges Dropped In Jacoby & Meyers Fraud Case In California
Orange County Register (CA)
Dec. 15—Orange County prosecutors have dropped 47 felony charges against two men accused of fraud and misusing the storied Jacoby & Meyers brand to rope clients for other law firms.
The operation advertised phone numbers under the Jacoby & Meyers name, giving the public the impression they could call and hire the law firm, according to an April 2021 Orange County grand jury indictment. Marketer Steve Mehr was charged with multiple insurance fraud schemes from 2011 to 2016. Also charged in some of the marketing operations was George Hobson III.
However, the District Attorney's Office dismissed the charges this week because important evidence was no longer available, spokeswoman Kimberly Edds said.
"We evaluate every case based on the current state of the evidence and what we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt," Edds said. "Based on the status of the evidence, we were unable to proceed and the case was dismissed in the interest of justice. Under the totality of the circumstances, we felt that this is a fair resolution."
Edds, however, added that Mehr paid $75,000 in restitution for not having an Irvine business license.
Marshall Camp, Mehr's attorney said the fraud charges should never have been filed.
"Mr. Mehr has dedicated his life to representing individuals affected by serious injuries. We are enormously gratified by this result," Camp said.
Camp noted Mehr is no longer associated with Jacoby & Meyers.
Under Mehr, callers to the advertised numbers for Jacoby & Meyers were connected with operators for a company called Web Shark 360, formed by Mehr and based in Irvine. Potential clients were recruited through toll-free telephone numbers, online inquiry submissions or web-based live-chats.
The clients were sent to attorneys who paid a monthly fee for referrals or kicked back a part of their earnings after the cases concluded. Camp called the model "joint attorney marketing" and said it is fair and legal."This was a real law firm with real attorneys and real clients," he said. "We never knew why the D.A. decided to make it into a criminal case."
Besides the Jacoby & Meyers clientele, Mehr and Hobson collected $3.8 million from 22 workers' compensation providers and government agencies, including Los Angeles and Riverside counties, for court services provided by companies owned by the two men, authorities said. The companies, which gathered documents for subpoenas and provided translation services, were part of the alleged insurance scams.
During the litigation, attorneys for Mehr and Hobson tried to get the District Attorney's Office thrown off the case.
Court documents filed by the defense alleged that Deputy District Attorney Noorul Hasan interviewed a witness who was represented by an attorney without that attorney's knowledge — a violation of a legal tenet.
The document also accused Hasan of making untrue and misleading statements to obtain a search warrant. The paperwork described Hasan as "blowing through red lights" throughout the case.
The District Attorney's Office did not comment on the Hasan allegations.
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