Hundreds of southeast Michigan victims stand to receive restitution
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced the sentencing of Stephen Barry Ruza, 52, of Orchard Lake, former owner of Home Legal Group Inc., for one felony count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise. Ruza was sentenced to 12 months in Oakland County Jail, followed by five years of probation by Judge Nanci Grant in Oakland County’s 6th Circuit Court. Ruza pleaded guilty to the charges of defrauding his victims with a fake mortgage assistance scheme in September.
“Criminals who take advantage of hard working men and women want nothing more than to stay in their homes will not be tolerated,” said Schuette. “The conclusion of this case ensures another bad apple is off the street and I want to applaud my Homeowner Protection Team for their hard work on this case.”
At the time of sentencing, Ruza was ordered to pay $445,895.16 in restitution to the first 297 of his victims. Under stipulations of his plea deal, Ruza could be ordered to pay hundreds of thousands more in restitution based on the final number of victims. That count is still being determined.
His September guilty plea ensures that Ruza cannot operate as an attorney or run this kind of business again in the future. Prior to sentencing, Ruza completed the following:
- Provided a list of the 50 satisfied Home Legal Group clients by October 1, 2015;
- Paid $262,500 in restitution and will pay any remaining restitution as ordered by the court as a condition of probation; and
- Agree to a psychological exam and complete any recommended counseling.
The initial payment of $262,500 will go directly to the victims. Additional restitution will be paid by the Michigan Homeowner Protection Fund, which Ruza is then required to reimburse.
Homeowners Protection Fund
Schuette worked with the legislature and Governor Rick Snyder to establish the $97 Million Michigan Homeowner Protection Fund and ensure these funds are directed toward victims of foreclosure scams or fraud. On August 1, 2012, Governor Snyder signed legislation creating the $97 Million Homeowner Protection Fund.
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