Par Funding Principals Charged in a RICO Indictment in Addition to Pending Charges of Securities Fraud, Extortion, Tax Crimes, Perjury, and Obstruction
PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Leaford George Cameron, 65, of Burlington, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 12 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release in connection with his operation of a fraudulent multi-state law practice. Cameron was convicted in February 2018, of one count of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and three counts of making false statements.
The government sought and obtained a substantial prison sentence to account for Cameron’s repeated and brazen behavior in posing, for decades, as a licensed attorney in numerous legal cases pending in federal and state courts across the United States. Cameron is not a lawyer and has never been a lawyer, but today’s sentence marks the third time he was caught impersonating one. In this most recent instance, Cameron operated his phony law firm while on probation for his 2014 conviction. He defrauded over 100 victims from several states and foreign countries and pocketed upwards of $200,000 in bogus attorney’s fees.
Cameron went to great lengths to trick his victims, courts, and opposing counsel into believing that he was a real lawyer operating a real law firm. He made up a law firm name, referring to the firm at different times as “The Law Offices of Cameron, Hamilton and Associates” and “The Law Offices of Bernstein, Cameron, Hamilton and Associates.” He used business cards, letters, and envelopes printed with the firm’s name and the names of make-believe lawyers in the firm, and he even filed court papers purportedly signed by make-believe lawyers. And, to establish his bona fides in court filings, Cameron used Attorney Identification Numbers stolen from licensed Pennsylvania attorneys and repeatedly stated, often under the penalty of perjury, that he was licensed to practice law. But when it came time to file state and federal tax returns, Cameron referred to himself as a “consultant,” “litigation specialist,” or “legal consultant,” not a lawyer, to avoid getting caught.
The government also presented evidence that Cameron provided sub-standard legal services to his victims, many of whom were immigrants and low-income people. Examples of his botched cases include one in which his client’s home was foreclosed and another in which a National Honor Society student was wrongfully deported.
“The evidence presented at trial proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this defendant was not only a phony lawyer, but also an incompetent phony lawyer,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Lawyers take an oath to uphold and promote the rule of law, not subvert it. Far from a guardian of the law, Cameron is a crook whose fraud caused serious harm to his victims and the public’s trust in our legal institutions. For justice to prevail, people must be able to trust that their lawyer is, in fact, a lawyer; that the judge assigned to their case is, in fact, a judge; and that the legal system is, in fact, fair. Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of Cameron’s conduct and the decades of disrespect he showed towards our legal system.”
“In betraying the trust of his clients through his rampant fraud schemes, Mr. Cameron ruthlessly exploited his victims for his own personal financial gain,” said Marlon V. Miller, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia. “HSI special agents and our law enforcement partners will continue to prioritize investigations of fraudsters like Mr. Cameron who undermine the integrity of our legal system and cause significant and long-lasting legal and financial complications for their victims. HSI Philadelphia would also like to recognize the support provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in bringing this important case to a successful conclusion.”
The case was investigated by Special Agent Thomas Eyre of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with assistance provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The government was represented by former Assistant United States Attorney James Petkun at trial and Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Velez at sentencing.