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A.G. Schneiderman Announces Court Judgment Against Albany Resident For Practicing Law Without A License

Mario Vredenburg And NYS Prisoner Assistance Center Cheated New Yorkers Out Of Over $23,000 In Legal Fees

Vredenburg And NYSPAC Now Prohibited From Practicing Law, Ordered To Pay Full Restitution And $244,500 Penalty

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has obtained a default judgment in Albany County Supreme Court against NYSPAC, Inc., operating as the NYS Prisoner Assistance Center or NY Parole Aids, and its owner, Mario Vredenburg a/k/a Antonia Barrone, for providing legal services they were unauthorized to perform, defrauding numerous New Yorkers in the process.

Since at least 2012, NYSPAC and Vredenburg, a convicted felon, collected thousands of dollars in legal fees from New Yorkers—including prison inmates and their families—to handle administrative parole appeals and other legal matters that they were unqualified and unlicensed to perform. Following Attorney General Schneiderman’s lawsuit in May 2017, the court ordered Vredenburg and NYSPAC to pay a $244,500 penalty to the State and full restitution, including $23,427.70 to known consumers who paid for legal services. This judgment also prohibits Vredenburg and NYSPAC from practicing law without a license, or advertising, or selling legal or paralegal services.

“This judgment is a win for all New Yorkers impacted by this scam, ensuring that the victims can no longer be preyed on by the defendants,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Practicing law without a license can have dire consequences for victims who are simply seeking legitimate legal advice and representation. My office won’t hesitate to hold accountable anyone who harms the legal rights of New Yorkers.”

In May 2017, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Vredenburg and NYSPAC, Inc. for advertising an array of legal services on the NYS Prisoner Assistance Center’s website and subsequently charging consumers thousands of dollars to provide legal services that they were not licensed to perform. As the lawsuit detailed, Vredenburg conducted administrative and judicial appeals on behalf of inmates who were denied parole by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and represented inmates at administrative hearings, as well as individuals facing criminal charges in various New York State courts. Additionally, Vredenburg filed legal documents with forged signatures and fake notary stamps, and wrote letters on behalf of consumers on letterhead bearing the name of the fictitious law firm— “Stacchini & Barrone, Attorneys at Law.” To further the scheme, Vredenburg also appropriated the name of a licensed attorney, without that attorney’s knowledge.

Consumers who have a complaint against Vredenburg or NYSPAC, Inc. are urged to file a complaint online or call 1-800-771-7755.

Consumers can check whether an individual is a licensed attorney in New York State by visiting the New York State Unified Court System’s website.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanked DOCCS for its assistance in this matter.

This investigation was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Emily Auletta and Amy Schallop, Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia, all of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Manisha M. Sheth, with assistance from Investigator Mark Rudd, of the Investigations Bureau.