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A.G. Schneiderman Announces Lawsuit Against Albany Resident Operating NYS Prisoner Assistance Center For Allegedly Practicing Law Without A License

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2017

New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060
Albany Press Office / 518-776-2427
nyag.pressoffice@ag.NY.gov 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES LAWSUIT AGAINST ALBANY RESIDENT OPERATING NYS PRISONER ASSISTANCE CENTER FOR ALLEGEDLY PRACTICING LAW WITHOUT A LICENSE

Mario Vredenburg a/k/a Antonia Barrone Allegedly Charged Consumers Thousands Of Dollars For Legal Services; Forged Signatures On Legal Documents

Suit Seeks Permanent Injunction; Restitution

Schneiderman: Those Who Impair New Yorkers’ Legal Rights Will Be Held Accountable

ALBANY — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit filed in Albany County Supreme Court yesterday against NYSPAC, Inc., operating as the NYS Prisoner Assistance Center or NY Parole Aids, and its owner, Mario Vredenburg a/k/a Antonia Barrone, a convicted felon who has spent time in state prison, for bilking countless New Yorkers, including prison inmates and their families, of thousands of dollars to handle administrative parole appeals and other legal matters that they are unqualified, and unlicensed, to perform.  The lawsuit alleges that Vredenburg, operating the business from home, duped numerous consumers by falsely claiming to be an attorney, and misrepresenting that the NYS Prisoner Assistance Center was staffed with attorneys.

“Practicing law without a license can have devastating consequences on victims seeking legitimate legal advice and representation,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Those who impair the legal rights of New Yorkers by holding themselves out as licensed attorneys will be held accountable.”

According to papers filed in Albany Supreme Court, although Vredenburg is not an attorney, Vredenburg advertised an array of legal services on the NYS Prisoner Assistance Center’s website and charged thousands of dollars to provide legal services, including administrative and judicial appeals on behalf of inmates who were denied parole by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and representing inmates at administrative hearings and individuals facing criminal charges in various New York State courts.  In some cases, Vredenburg accepted fees but did not perform any services.

The lawsuit also alleges that Vredenburg filed legal documents with forged signatures and fake notary stamps, and also wrote letters on behalf of consumers on letterhead bearing the name of the fictitious law firm “Stacchini & Barrone, Attorneys at Law.” Vredenburg also appropriated the name of a licensed attorney, without that attorney’s knowledge, to further the scheme.

The lawsuit alleges that Vredenburg and NYSPAC, Inc. engaged in fraudulent and deceptive business practices under New York Law, and also violated New York laws prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law.  The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction barring Vredenburg and NYSPAC, Inc. from engaging in the unlawful practice of law and restitution for consumers who paid for legal services.

Consumers who have a complaint against Vredenburg or NYSPAC, Inc. are urged to file a complaint online (https://forms.ag.NY.gov/CIS/consumer-complaints.jsp) or call 1-800-771-7755.  Consumers can check whether an individual is a licensed attorney in New York State by visiting the New York State Unified Court System’s website at http://iapps.courts.state.NY.us/attorney/AttorneySearch.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanked DOCCS for its assistance in this matter.

This investigation is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Emily Auletta and Amy Schallop, Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia, all of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Manisha Sheth, with assistance from Investigator Mark Rudd, of the Investigations Bureau.