FROM: Alvin G. Weger, Assistant District Attorney   CONTACT PERSON:
Martha J. Donohoe, Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
(408) 792-2571   For Immediate Release on April 19, 2002
Kevin Patrick Lowe, 36, of Lowe Legal Services, El Sobrante, CA, received a sentence of six years in state prison for violating his court-ordered probation conditions. The conditions required that he not engage in any legal service work following his guilty plea to several criminal acts in October 2000. These acts included perjury, filing false documents, suborning perjury, and soliciting the commission of perjury, and misdemeanor counts of unlawful practice of law, contempt of court, and violations of the Unlawful Detainer Assistant Act.   The plea in October 2000 occurred following a 15-month investigation of Lowe’s activities as an independent paralegal offering to assist tenants facing eviction. He located victims by researching public records at the county courthouse and sending a letter offering to get victims up to an additional 12 weeks in their homes. Lowe typically charged victims $300 to prepare and file a form answer to the eviction action. The work performed by defendant was usually defective and often deprived victims of legitimate defenses to an eviction. Victims were unaware that area legal aid agencies provide free legal assistance and education to tenants facing eviction. Lowe failed to provide the required notice of the availability of free and low cost legal services.   Lowe’s victims were usually indigent and unfamiliar with the legal system. Victims complained that the defendant’s promises to get an additional 12 weeks often did not pan out. Also, many were surprised that Lowe would not help them during the trial of their case. Victims also said that they did not know that Lowe had falsely signed their names to legal documents filed with the court. During the investigation, the District Attorney’s Office identified at least 42 cases in Santa Clara County where Lowe prepared legal documents. Lowe also worked extensively in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.   Lowe was sentenced in October 2000 to one year in the Santa Clara County jail, ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to his victims, and was given a specific order to not engage in any type of legal services work. The District Attorney’s Office received information from witnesses in Contra Costa County that shortly after Mr. Lowe’s release from jail, he again began researching unlawful detainer filings in the Richmond Branch of the Contra Costa County Court. He also had posted business Cards in an Alameda County courthouse. Witnesses at the Richmond courthouse said he was seen researching records two to three times per week. Further investigation revealed that Mr. Lowe continued to operate his business, Lowe Legal Services, again acting as an unlawful detainer assistant, in direct violation of court orders.   In January, 2002, Mr. Lowe was arraigned on charges of violating his probation and a formal hearing began. Witnesses at the hearing testified that Mr. Lowe was accessing court files, soliciting clients by mail, telling them he would prepare eviction defense paperwork for them, and, in one instance, said he would assist the victim at her court appearance. On Monday, April 15, 2002, the formal hearing concluded and Lowe was found to have violated his probation. The court determined that Mr. Lowe had violated the conditions of his probation and was no longer entitled to receive probation for his previously admitted charges. The court struck the earlier sentencing and sentenced Lowe to six years in state prison. The other conditions previously imposed, including restitution of over $100,000 remain.   This prosecution is one of a series of cases prepared and filed by the Consumer Protection Unit of the District Attorneys Office and intended to address illegal activities by non-attorneys who offer legal assistance. Non-attorneys must comply with the requirements of the State’s Business & Professions Code. Legal Document Assistants and Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) Assistants are required to be registered, have a bond, and provide a contract describing the services and the client’s legal rights. Lowe registered as an Unlawful Detainer Assistant but he failed to disclose he had been previously convicted of felonies related to his business as a tax preparer. Persons convicted of a felony are not permitted to register as either a Legal Document Assistant or an Unlawful Detainer Assistant.   ###   

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