Cooper settles with tax companies

Keith Loria Aug. 30, 2010, 10:19am


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper announced on Thursday that he has settled with several tax companies and their owner for allegedly providing legal services without a license to members of the Hispanic community.

A lawsuit against Elmer Virula and his companies, TPS Tax Professional Services, Inc., and Office Professional Services, Inc., was filed in 2008, alleging that the defendants violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and Unauthorized Practice and Improper Conduct statutes.

The defendants allegedly misrepresented that Virula was an attorney and certified public accountant in the state, and allegedly misled consumers with claims that they could help with immigration document preparation and obtaining proper marriage licenses and certificates.

Under terms of the agreement, the defendants will pay nearly $25,000 in restitution to 10 consumers who paid money for legal or marriage services and another $10,000 for costs associated with the litigation costs. They are also required to stop engaging in similar activities from now on.

"The State takes all allegations of the unauthorized practice of law very seriously," Cooper said. "I am pleased that this matter has been resolved in a way that will benefit consumers."

The defendants must also pay restitution to any other eligible consumers who come forward in a year's time and must pay any claims within 60 days.

If the defendants violate the settlement agreement, they will be responsible for paying another $60,000 in civil penalties and attorneys fees.

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