The owner of a debt collection agency apologized in Las Vegas Justice Court on Thursday for what he said was his company's unwitting role in a process serving scandal.
Paul Liggio, who runs Richland Holdings, told Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa that his company was "lied to" and will help officials "clean this up" in any way it can.
"I apologize for this travesty," Liggio said. "I am offering to do whatever is necessary to make this right. I really feel terrible about this."
Richland Holdings is one of several companies that used On Scene Mediations, an unlicensed process serving company, to serve defendants with copies of lawsuits seeking to collect debts.
The owner of On Scene Mediations, former Las Vegas police officer Maurice Carroll, and his office manager, Vilisia Coleman, have been charged with lying in sworn affidavits claiming to have served defendants in Richland Holdings cases. The affidavits allowed the debt collection agency to obtain default judgments against the defendants after they failed to respond to the lawsuits.
At Thursday's hearing, Saragosa raised the specter of possible wrongdoing on Carroll's part in additional Richland Holdings cases. The hearing was set to determine whether On Scene Mediations had properly served defendants with court papers in 25 cases in which Richland Holdings wanted default judgments.
Saragosa said Carroll submitted sworn affidavits indicating he had served five of those defendants at different locations in the valley -- all at 8:30 a.m. on May 17.
Richland Holdings attorney Kevin Hansen told Saragosa that the company already had dismissed those cases voluntarily, with another 15 of the 25 cases Saragosa heard on Thursday. Richland Holdings previously had argued the company was entitled to default judgments because the defendants had not answered the lawsuits.
Some of the dismissed cases will be re-filed with the help of a new process serving company, and some will not, Hansen said, adding, "We're in the process of trying to unravel this."
Another 17 cases might be dismissed in the wake of calls Richland Holdings received from the defendants contending they were never served with copies of the lawsuits, Hansen said.
Saragosa has set an Aug. 24 hearing to review questions about affidavits of service by On Scene Mediations in eight more Richland Holdings cases.
Afterward, Liggio said the allegations Carroll had lied in affidavits caught him by surprise.
"Over the years I thought he did a great job for us," Liggio said.
Liggio, who testified before the grand jury that indicted Carroll this week, said his company is cooperating fully with Las Vegas police in their investigation.
He said Richland Holdings stopped using On Scene Mediations last spring, when it learned about the allegations from police. The two companies had a business arrangement since 2004.
Also, detectives are looking to corroborate allegations that Carroll and his process servers lied in court affidavits to bolster lawsuits filed by Rapid Cash, a Kansas-based payday loan company with 16 stores in Las Vegas.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for Rapid Cash withdrew applications in Justice Court for 20 default judgments linked to On Scene Mediations.
Caleb Langsdale told Saragosa, who has been credited with helping police uncover the process serving scandal, that Rapid Cash was starting the legal process over in those cases because of the allegations swirling around Carroll and his company.
Langsdale said he had filed new lawsuits to recover debts against the defendants, and Rapid Cash hired a new process serving company to get copies of those lawsuits to the defendants.
Justice Court officials are gearing up to conduct a review of almost 20,000 default judgments that Rapid Cash and Richland Holdings have obtained since 2004.
The officials seek to determine whether the rights of any of the defendants were violated.
Contact Jeff German at (((REDACTED))) or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.