A Baltimore man found to have represented more than 50 bankruptcy clients through a fake law firm has been blocked from conducting business and ordered to pay $261,000.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge David Rice on October 19 ordered Michael Mancini, proprietor of the fictitious Scalia & Seidel, to close shop and pay fines and damages for practicing without a law license.
Between February and July, Mancini, whose education ended with a high school diploma, filed bankruptcy court petitions, schedules and financial statements for at least 54 clients, often using the fictitious name “A. Michael Scalia,” and charging a flat rate of $400, according to the decision. Mancini, who changed his name from Michael Antonio Lonardo earlier this year, used the Scalia name to run an office in Baltimore decorated with law books to give the impression of a legitimate practice, according to testimony from the U.S. Trustees Office.
A website for the firm, ScaliaSeidel.com, now says only that the office “has closed.” Mancini also advertised his services as a lawyer on websites including Rocket Lawyer and Lawyers.com. The “Seidel” name in the firm referenced Mancini’s grandfather, who has been dead for 30 years, the judge wrote.
A biography of attorney A. Michael Scalia of Baltimore posted on Hg.org as of October 23 states that he is a member of the Federal Bar Association and is licensed in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The site states that Scalia received a law degree from Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Plattsburgh. “A. Michael Scalia is blazing a trail in the legal services field with his flat fee approach to fees,” the website states.
Neither the Pennsylvania Bar Association nor the New York State Bar Association lists A. Michael Scalia as an attorney.
The action was brought by the Office of the U.S. Trustee in Maryland in June. Assistant U.S. Trustee Mark Neal, who declined to comment on the case, handled the matter. Mancini, who could not be reached for comment, did not respond to the action filed in June, prompting the judge to enter a default judgment on October 19.
The $261,000 the court ordered represents $153,000 in fines and $108,000 in damages.
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