Lawyer Attacked With 'Metal Object' In Cash Advance Company Fraud Probe
Last week, a former Philadelphia Bar chancellor, Gaetan Alfano of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, was looking to find assets belonging to a cash advance company subject to a $191 million judgment. It's a not-uncommon task for an attorney representing a court-appointed receiver. Then, according to authorities, the brother of one of the company's founders attacked Alfano in broad daylight with a metal object. Alfano needed seven staples to his skull and an MRI scan. Thankfully, he's expected to return to work soon.
Prosecutors have charged the brother, James LaForte, with retaliating against a witness and obstruction.
If that sounds like an extreme reaction for a lending company, the record agrees:
Working as a supervisor at Par, they say, he threatened small business owners with physical violence on more than one occasion for failing to repay money the company had advanced them.
The LaFortes' business made its profits by raising billions from investors and then loaning it out -- often at high interest rates -- to cash-strapped smaller companies unable to secure loans from traditional banks.
You know you can just write onerous contracts and secure liens on people's property, right? It may be a despicable practice, but it's one with a rich history in this country. Not that bludgeoning people doesn't have a rich history in this country, but it's a history that usually ends in prison while the other ends in a beach estate.
As part of his role, prosecutors said, James LaForte supervised and encouraged Gioe -- a body builder and reputed mob associate of New York's Gambino crime family -- who admitted in court last year that he'd used mob-style extortion tactics, including threatening to "stick a fork" in the head of one borrower and vowing to cut off the hands of another, in an effort to recoup debts owed to Par.
All right. Maybe this had already progressed beyond the point where some shady lawyers and predatory contracts were going to form a workable business plan. A broader criminal probe into the company's dealings continues. One suspects the company isn't going to fare well in how prosecutors describe this attack.
Attorneys face horrible violence out there. We often cover family law lawyers becoming victims of horrible violence, but this is a reminder that even the mundane task of collecting information for a receiver isn't always safe. We wish Alfano a speedy recovery.
Par Funding founder's brother charged with attacking attorney investigating firm assets [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you're interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.