MICHIGAN — Authorities are encouraging people to come forward if they believe they’ve been victimized by three attorneys charged in an alleged fraud scheme that includes cases in Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties.
On Tuesday, the Genesse County Prosecutor’s Office announced forgery, obstruction of justice, and racketeering charges against 70-year-old Marc Fishman, 32-year-old Ryan Fishman, and 33-year-old Alexandra Ichim.
“These lawyers put a dagger in the heart of due process and victimized some of the most vulnerable people in our state,” said David Leyton, Genesse County prosecutor.
The three work in Oakland County at the Fishman Group P.C. as civil attorneys, however authorities say the case against them started in Genesse County.
Four weeks ago, police received a top and they quickly developed a case that goes back to at least August 2019.
According to Leyton, the lawyers would falsify court documents in debt collection lawsuits and lie to judges that they served the papers to the people who didn’t pay. With court judgements in the attorney’s favor, they could then seize financial assets, such as paychecks and retirement funds, without their victims knowing about the legal trouble.
“They don’t know how that works, they just assume, ‘Well maybe I do owe this debt, maybe this is correct, and maybe I’m getting what I deserve,’ when in fact they don’t deserve it,” said Leyton.
Officials say the case’s scope involves 30 instances in six counties across the state, including Kalamazoo and Calhoun. It’s believed the lawyers took $1 million from at least 1,000 people.
People are being asked to come forward if they received a letter from the law firm or were one of their clients. Authorities applauded a Kalamazoo man for speaking up at Tuesday’s press conference.
“He got a garnishment notice… a default judgement notice,” said Leyton. “He went to a lawyer and the lawyer looked into it and the lawyer actually sent to Fishman Group a letter saying, ‘Hey, my client never got served, something’s amiss here.’ That actually went to a judge in Kalamazoo County, who went to Prosecutor Jeff Getting in Kalamazoo County and an investigation has ensued.”
Those who believe they may have been impacted are asked to collect any records or documents in their possession and to then contact their county prosecutor.
If convicted, the lawyers face up to 20 years in prison. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has been contacted too.
“It’s greed, it’s simple greed,” said Genesse County Sheriff Chris Swanson.