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California lawyer charged with stealing millions from PG-based foreclosure firm

California lawyer charged with stealing millions from PG-based foreclosure firm

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A California man has been indicted in Maryland on charges that he stole nearly $4 million from a Prince George’s County law firm that he controlled and the firm’s clients.

Matthew C. Browndorf, 51, of Irvine, California, faces four counts each of wire fraud and money laundering. A federal grand jury returned the indictment last week in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

Browndorf was the CEO of an LLC called Plutos Sama, which owned BP Fisher Law Group, a foreclosure-focused firm based in Prince George’s County, according to the indictment.

BP Fisher “represented lenders and mortgage loan services in foreclosure and default proceedings in Maryland” and Washington, D.C., federal prosecutors said in a news release. The firm acted as a substitute trustee for lenders and mortgage servicers who foreclosed on defaulted properties in Maryland. The money received from the foreclosures was transferred into BP Fisher’s trust accounts.

Browndorf is accused of transferring those funds out of BP Fisher’s trust accounts and into other bank accounts that he controlled. The money should have gone to the firm’s clients, the indictment charges.

Browndorf also allegedly transferred funds out of BP Fisher’s operating accounts, sometimes leaving the firm unable to pay business expenses, including employee payroll, health benefits and retirement benefits.

He is accused of using the stolen money to pay his own or his family’s personal expenses, or to cover Plutos Sama’s expenses. In total, he is charged with stealing more than $3.9 million.

The indictment details four occasions in 2018 and 2019 when BP Fisher funds were transferred from one bank account into another that Browndorf controlled. The transferred funds, which totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars, were the proceeds of foreclosure sales in Rockville, Upper Marlboro, Gaithersburg and other Maryland municipalities, according to the indictment.

Browndorf withdrew or moved thousands of dollars shortly after those bank transfers took place, the indictment claims. He made a payment toward a Plutos Sama credit card and bought office furniture with the money, according to the indictment, and transferred other funds into his personal bank account and a mortgage account.

Browndorf faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and 10 years in prison for each count of money laundering if convicted, though federal sentences are typically much shorter than the maximum.

Browndorf is also listed as a partner at Wilson Browndorf Law LLC, a firm that claims to handle distressed assets.

He did not respond to an email requesting comment, and the phone numbers listed for the firm were not functional as of Monday.

Browndorf is licensed to practice law in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to the indictment.

He is set to have an initial appearance in federal court in Greenbelt on Sept. 2.

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