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Sentencing of Newport man who posed as a lawyer to defraud clients postponed

James Frank Barker of Newport Beach pleaded guilty.
James Frank Barker of Newport Beach pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from allegations that he posed as an attorney and defrauded clients through debt consolidation and mortgage modification schemes.
(File Photo)

Sentencing was postponed Friday in the case of a Newport Beach man who posed as an attorney to defraud clients through debt consolidation and mortgage modification schemes.

James Frank Barker, 61, pleaded guilty in February last year to more than 20 felony charges that include grand theft, money laundering derived from criminal activity and forgery. He’s also been charged with two counts of petty theft, which is a misdemeanor.

Court records indicate additional sentencing enhancements such as aggravated white collar crime between $100,000 and $500,000 and property damage exceeding $65,000 and $200,000.

Barker initially pleaded not guilty at the time of his arrest in 2017.

He is now scheduled to appear in court at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana for sentencing on May 28.
Jail records do not currently indicate that Barker is still in custody.

Prosecutors said Barker posed as an attorney between December 2013 to July 2015 under a variety of aliases and law firms to solicit clientele with the promise of consolidating their debts and lowering their mortgage payments through loan modifications. During that time, Barker is reported to have collected a total of $45,600 from three pairs of clients and failed to notify their creditors.

Barker refused to provide refunds after failing to perform the work entrusted to him, authorities said.

An investigation by the Orange County district attorney’s office began in 2015 after officials received a tip from an attorney representing two of Barker’s clients.

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