any money. I just want to see them arrested and in jail, because they've been
In September of last year SF Weekly broke the story about Noe's latest apparent scam, which involved seeking homeowners in default, then making inflated claims that his firm, United First, could defeat foreclosure actions -- for a fee. Noe was sued by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who alleged Noe and his attorney cheated at least 2,000 defaulted homeowners out of thousands of dollars each. SF Weekly received a call from the FBI in connection with the story, and a Southern California federal judge has said he'd requested multiple investigations into the behavior of Noe's partner, Roth. Not long ago the State Bar of California shut down Roth's firm, and allowed his former clients to obtain Roth's files, providing some of the basis for claims by Tauscher's four clients that Noe and Roth had defrauded them.
Under ordinary circumstances, news of Noe's additional legal peril would please us: SF Weekly has been following Noe since 2003, when
we wrote about a "trust mill" scam he had set up to pressure elderly
people into flipping their assets into worthless investments. But
we actually relay word of Noe's mounting legal peril with a touch of
melancholy. If Noe were to stay on the down-low, he might be able to
orchestrate a final comeback of one of the greatest crime families in
Just before Tauscher filed her suit, Noe's
father, Paul Noe Sr., was released from prison at age 81 after a
criminal career that made Noe Sr. and his brother, Clifford Noe, two of
the most storied con men of the 20th century.
In 1989, Paul Noe II was convicted on felony fraud charges for his role in a
scheme to buy an insurance company using forged letters of credit.
The '89 scheme was hatched by Noe's uncle, Clifford, who, along Paul Noe Sr., masterminded a 1960s con spree that
included looting a bank in Texas and attempting to fraudulently
purchase a bank in England. The swindles became the subject of myriad magazine and newspaper articles, as well as the 1973
book The Fountain Pen Conspiracy, reissued as The Super Swindlers.
2002, the elder two Noe brothers launched another scam in which they
claimed to own a trust company with assets of more than $1 billion,
purportedly backed by interest in the West Coast trust mill operation
run by the younger Paul Noe.
"They were saying 'our banks have this
amount of assets,' which was the phony paperwork in California," said
Florida attorney Louis S. St. Laurent II.
Four decades ago, St.
Laurent was the Florida prosecutor who put Paul Noe Sr. in prison
for a series of schemes in which the elder Noe brothers worked with a
loose network of around 100 international con men to steal $100 million
in advance fees. It's hard to overstate the scope and wickedness of the
schemes of these modern-day Professor Moriartys; at one point, they had
managed to use forged letters of credit to attempt to buy control of a London
merchant bank, then open bogus branches of the institution all over the
After the elder Noes got out of prison about a
decade ago, they went back to their old line of work. And In 2002,
working on behalf of a private client, St. Laurent cooperated with the
the FBI and SEC to bring a criminal case against the
elder Noes, who had launched a modern version of their old "advance
Noe Sr. was released from that prison term May 20. A
Hollywood writer might have penned a scenario where the old gang
got back together to pull off one last glorious scam. Sadly, Noe
Sr. emerged from his prison cell to see the demise of his son's tawdry con scheme, which allegedly sought to victimize broke California Latinos.
"I know them. They will be involved in
something. But I don't think the mortgage thing is their style," said
St. Laurent. "I haven't checked on Paul Noe Sr. to see if he's involved
in any of his son's recent transactions. But I will now."