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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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