Tampa, Fla. — U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber sentenced James Lee Clark (61, Wilton Manors) to 48 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit fraudulent bankruptcy and wire fraud. Clark had pleaded guilty on December 14, 2021.
According to court documents, from January 2010 to February 2017, Clark, who was a licensed attorney, conspired with his paralegal, Eric Liebman, to defraud mortgagers and guarantors holding notes on foreclosed properties. Clark and Liebman falsely and fraudulently told distressed property owners that they would negotiate with creditors and guarantors to prevent foreclosures in exchange for the owners executing quitclaim or guarantee deeds for the properties to a controlled entity by Libman. Clark and Liebman also convinced landlords to pay rent or agree to sell their homes. In order to continue to collect ill-gotten rents and/or profit from property sales, Clark filed fraudulent bankruptcy petitions on behalf of landlords to prevent mortgagees from foreclosing and legally taking title to properties.
Additionally, from January 2012 to February 2017, Clark defrauded his clients out of approximately $1.3 million. As part of his practice, Clark acted as a fiduciary for clients and held their money in various bank accounts. Instead of using the funds for the purposes intended by his clients, Clark diverted the money to his law firm’s bank accounts and used it for personal expenses, such as gambling, travel, and automobiles.
Liebman previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Office of the United States Trustee for the Middle District of Florida (Tampa Division) provided substantial investigative support. He was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.