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Man charged with running business from prison

Criminal charges have been filed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office against Lamont Cooper, 38, formerly of Lancaster, for allegedly operating his Buffalo-based debt-collection agency while incarcerated in federal prison in Batavia on unrelated charges.

According to the felony complaint, Cooper continued to operate CMC Recovery Services, Inc., dba Legal Action Recovery, on Bailey Avenue in Buffalo in violation of a May 2009 court order barring him from the business. Cooper and CMC Recovery Services were charged in Buffalo City Court with first-degree scheme to defraud and second-degree criminal contempt.

Legal Action Recovery collectors, according to the press release, regularly demanded payment for non-existent debts and demanded payments for debts that had already passed the statute of limitations or were discharged in bankruptcy. Using false law enforcement identities, collectors coerced and cajoled terrified victims into agreeing to make payments, Cuomo said.

The action, taken Wednesday, is the latest in Cuomo’s ongoing probe into unlawful debt collection practices.

Cooper faces up to an additional four years in prison on the felony scheme to defraud count and the company may be fined up to $10,000 or twice the amount it gained.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Paul McCarthy, under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Deputy Bureau Chief Richard Ernst and Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly. The investigation was handled by Investigators Sandra Migaj, Michael G. McCartney, and Paul R. Scherf Jr., under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator James Domres.