South Bend attorney pleads guilty to fraud charges

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A northern Indiana attorney accused of aiding and abetting mail and wire fraud has pleaded guilty to all 13 counts listed in an information filed Monday.

Thomas F. “Chip” Lewis III faced 12 counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, stemming from an advance fee scam operated by Byron L. Canada from 2003 to December 2009. The charges relate to 12 wire transfers that occurred between April 2007 and September 2008. Canada would promise to provide loans and financing for commercial, real estate, construction and other projects in exchange for up-front or advance fees for those loans, but he never provided any kind of financing.

Lewis would vouch for Canada and his companies even though he knew that Canada had been convicted of fraud in the past, knew loans had never been provided, and allowed Canada to misrepresent to victims, their counsel and others that Canada and his companies were direct lenders with their own source of funds, according to the charging information. Lewis helped to prepare and file declarations in a court proceeding in which victims, interested parties, and the court were misled in 2008 into thinking that Canada and his companies were capable of providing financing for a large real-estate development project when they were actually not capable.

The 13th count is for mail fraud and stems from a check mailed in October 2007 for $100,000.

Canada was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison in December 2010 after pleading guilty to a 31-count indictment in March 2010.

As part of the plea agreement, Lewis has agreed to pay restitution to the victims. His sentencing hearing has been set for 9 a.m. Nov. 7. According to the Roll of Attorneys, Lewis was admitted to practice in March 1996 and has no disciplinary history. He is listed as of counsel for the South Bend office of Lewis & Wilkins.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.