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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 19, 2022

Lawyer Charged with Stealing More Than $3.9 Million from Clients and Employees

The Defendant Allegedly Used Funds Owed to Clients from his Law Firm to Pay for Personal Expenses, Including His Mortgage

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury returned an indictment on August 16, 2022, charging Matthew C. Browndorf, age 51, of Irvine, California, with four counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering arising from a scheme to defraud the clients and employees of a foreclosure law firm that he owned by stealing more than $3.9 million.  Browndorf is currently expected to have an initial appearance on September 2, 2022, in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Kimberly Davis of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General. 

According to the indictment, Browndorf, a licensed attorney, was a partner at a California law firm and the Chief Executive Officer of Plutos Sama, LLC, a limited liability company organized in Delaware, but principally located in California. 

As detailed in the indictment, Plutos Sama owned BP Fisher Law Group, LLP, a law firm located in Prince George’s County, Maryland, that represented lenders and mortgage loan servicers in foreclosure and default proceedings in Maryland and the District of Columbia.  BP Fisher acted as substitute trustee for lenders and mortgage loan servicers who had lawfully enacted foreclosure proceedings on properties in Maryland that were in default.  The proceeds of those foreclosures would be transferred into BP Fisher’s trust accounts. 

The indictment alleges that once the proceeds of the foreclosures were deposited into BP Fisher’s trust account, Browndorf transferred or directed the transfer of those funds out of the trust account and into other accounts that Browndorf controlled, when those funds should have been paid to BP Fisher’s clients.  The indictment further alleges that Browndorf similarly directed the transfer of funds out of BP Fisher’s operating accounts, which often caused BP Fisher to be unable to pay its ordinary business expenses, including employee payroll, employee health insurance benefits, and employee retirement benefits.  Browndorf allegedly used the stolen funds to pay for his personal expenses, the personal expenses of family members, or expenses incurred by Plutos Sama.  Finally, the indictment alleges that Browndorf stole more than $3.9 million. 

If convicted, Browndorf faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud and a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for each count of money laundering.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and FHFA OIG for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew P. Phelps and Stephanie Williamson, who are prosecuting the federal case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Lubin (410) 209-4854
Updated August 19, 2022