GENESEE COUNTY — Three Oakland County attorneys have been accused of operating a criminal enterprise in Genesee County and defrauding defendants in civil lawsuits.
Genesee County officials announced last week that multiple felony charges have been brought against attorneys Marc Fishman, Ryan Fishman and Alexandra Ichim with the Fishman Group law firm located in Bloomfield Township. All three defendants have been charged with racketeering and obstruction of justice, while Ryan Fishman and Ichim are also facing 30 counts of forgery.
According to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, the Fishmans and Ichim allegedly organized a scheme to collect money from defendants who had not received their summons in civil lawsuit cases. When process servers had difficulty in locating or contacting defendants, Leyton said that the accused attorneys allegedly forged certificates of service to make it seem as if the defendants had been served.
“They (Fishman Group) would proceed to obtain default judgments from the court, and then they would garnish wages, garnish bank accounts and obtain assets that they weren’t legally entitled to obtain,” Leyton said. “In short, these lawyers put a dagger in the heart of due process and victimized some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”
Leyton said that because defendants did not receive a proper summons, they were never notified of the debt collection claims being levied against them.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said that one of the victims in Genesee County included an elderly woman with dementia who was moved from her home to an assisted care facility. Although the process server properly handled the case involving the woman, Swanson said that Fishman Group allegedly forged court papers to win a ruling against her.
“They counted on people not making a fuss, counted on people not knowing what their legal rights were, and those were the people they would victimize,” Swanson said. “They took advantage of people who couldn’t stand up for themselves.”
Swanson said that many victims of the alleged scheme didn’t even owe any money or weren’t aware that they did owe. Altogether, the three accused lawyers have been linked to 30 cases of fraud in Genesee County dating back to 2019.
Outside the county, Fishman Group is also being investigated for allegedly conducting similar racketeering cases in Kalamazoo, Oakland, Ingham, Livingston and Calhoun counties. Leyton and Swanson said that Fishman Group has allegedly defrauded up to 1,000 or more victims of more than $1 million in Michigan and may have also carried out schemes in Florida and Colorado.
Each of the accused lawyers were placed under arrest and were arraigned last Tuesday in Genesee County Circuit Court. All three have entered not guilty pleas and were issued bond.
Marc Fishman, 70, CEO and President of Fishman Group, has been charged with maintaining a criminal enterprise (racketeering) and one count of obstruction of justice. His son Ryan Fishman, 32, is facing one count of racketeering, 30 counts of forgery and one count of obstruction of justice. Alexandra Ichim, 33, has been charged with one count of racketeering, 30 counts of forgery and one count of obstruction of justice.
Racketeering carries a maximum charge of 20 years in prison. Each forgery count is also punishable by maximum penalty up to 14 years, and an obstruction of justice count is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years.
The Fishmans and Ichim were scheduled for another hearing today.