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Friday, July 06, 2018

Disbarred Attorney Admits Defrauding Former Clients and Law Firm Investors


SAN DIEGO – Clayton Marlow Anderson, Jr., a former attorney based in La Mesa, California before his disbarment in 2015, pled guilty today to defrauding investors and clients of over a million dollars.  Anderson also admitted to money laundering in connection with his fraud scheme, known alternatively as the “Clayton M. Anderson Monthly Income Plan”, “Anderson Plan”, or “A-Plan.”

During a hearing this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford, Anderson acknowledged that he created “A-Plan” to solicit loans to finance the costs and fees related to construction defect lawsuits brought by his law firm.  Anderson acknowledged that from 2005 until 2014, he solicited unsecured loans from six individuals and paid them high rates of interest between 8% and 13% each year.

As part of his plea, Anderson admitted that in 2010, owners of the Jefferson Pointe Professional Corporation (“JPPC”) hired Anderson to represent them in a construction defect lawsuit against the builders of their office park in Murrieta, California.  Anderson eventually negotiated a $1.82 million settlement for JPPC in October 2012.  Instead of paying his clients their rightful share of the legal settlement, however, Anderson sent them a letter on behalf of “A-Plan Investment Services, Inc.” promising JPPC a 13% annual return on their “investment.”  At today’s hearing, Anderson admitted that his letter contained multiple false claims, including that A-Plan had over $1 million under management and that A-Plan was the beneficiary of a $4.4 million insurance policy on his life.  Anderson admitted his clients invested $800,000 of their legal settlement into “A-Plan” in reliance on his false claims, and that he engaged in other fraudulent conduct toward his clients.

Anderson specifically admitted that on February 19, 2013, he made a $182,549.69 bank transfer to conceal that he had already taken his client’s settlement money out of his client trust account without his client’s knowledge or consent, and to hide from his clients the precarious financial situation of both his law firm and “A-Plan.”  Anderson also admitted that he engaged in a money laundering transaction on January 2, 2013, when he transferred over $30,000 in money derived from his fraud scheme into a retirement account under his control.

In addition to these specific transactions alleged in the Information filed against him, Anderson admitted that his fraud caused his clients to lose over $600,000, and that the six other A-Plan participants lost over $700,000 in money loaned to him. Anderson also admitted misrepresenting and concealing a variety of information from the six other A-Plan participants, including his law firm’s bankruptcy, his decision to forfeit all outstanding legal settlement money to the bankruptcy trustee, and his suspension and eventual disbarment by the California State Bar in January 2015.  Anderson admitted that if A-Plan’s participants had been aware of those facts, they would not have continued to participate in A-Plan, and that his misrepresentations and omissions prevented them from recouping their investments or at the very least mitigating their losses – totaling $1,362,257.50.

 “Clayton Anderson put his own financial interests above those of his clients, to whom he owed both legal and ethical duties,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman.  “This prosecution demonstrates the commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office to protecting the rights of investors – especially those investing with their own attorney – to candid, truthful information.”

“The FBI will investigate and bring those to justice who breach the attorney-client trust relationship by committing fraud and deceit,” commented FBI Special Agent in Charge John Brown. “Today, the Defendant Clayton Anderson, Jr., a former attorney, admitted to his A-Plan fraud scheme and will face justice for those actions.”

 “As an attorney, Anderson had a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard his client’s money.  Anderson violated his ethical duty by treating his clients’ trust account as a piggy bank,” said R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation.  “IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to protect the integrity of attorney client trust accounts, and ensure that attorneys who do not follow the duties imposed on them by law are held accountable.”

As a part of his plea agreement, Anderson agreed to pay over $1.5 million in restitution to the victims of his crimes.  Anderson faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $2,974,515.00 at his sentencing hearing before the Hon. Cathy Ann Bencivengo on September 28, 2018.

DEFENDANT                                    Case Number 18-cr-3075-CAB        

Clayton Marlow Anderson, Jr.           Mira Loma, CA.

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Wire Fraud – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1343

Maximum penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment, $2,724,515 fine, restitution

Money Laundering – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1957

Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine, restitution

AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation

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