A former Bridgeport attorney sentenced in July to 30 months in prison for his part in a long-running fraud targeting distressed homeowners in Connecticut has been suspended from practicing law for six years.
In its recent report of September attorney disciplinary cases, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel announced Bradford Barneys was suspended retroactive to April 11 by Hartford Superior Court Judge Antonio Robaina. Robaina handed down the penalty Sept. 19.
Barneys, a 51-year-old Maryland resident, pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
Federal investigators said Barneys, who operated Barneys Law Group, conspired with Easton resident Timothy Burke to defraud individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Burke, who had at least 13 different aliases, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and tax evasion. Burke was sentenced to 108 months in prison in April.
The government said Burke, the ringleader, falsely told homeowners already in or facing foreclosure that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages. The homeowners agreed to sign documents from Burke saying they’d be able to walk away from their homes without paying off mortgages or other costs associated with homeownership. Burke also told those homeowners the process of negotiating with lenders could take time and to ignore notices regarding foreclosures.
Burke would then look for tenants for those apartments online, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said about $1 million may have been raked in from the scheme.
Barneys was Burke’s attorney, and participated in dozens of meetings with Burke and the duped homeowners in his law offices, the government said. At some point after Barneys began representing Burke, he knew his client had no intention of buying the properties and paying the outstanding mortgages.
Barneys also represented Burke and his companies in eviction proceedings against tenants, and mailed copies of documents to homeowners on Burke’s behalf, the government said. Barneys, who began practicing in Connecticut in 1991, allegedly netted about $73,000.
Barneys is represented by Sefton Brown of the Law Offices of Sefton N. Brown in Bridgeport and Francis O’Reilly of O’Reilly & Shaw in Southport. Brown declined to comment Monday and O’Reilly did not respond to a request for comment.