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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. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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