Going for Broke

Dick Berry claims his bankruptcy services are cheaper than an attorney's, and just as effective. While court officials and many customers agree it's a scam conceived by white-collar felons, those who would shut him down are discovering they don't know Dic

The next day, the clerk mailed notice of the dismissal to the Bregios' creditors, including the firm that had financed their Dodge. The dismissal instantly made them fair game for creditors.

But Francine Bregio says she didn't get a letter from the court about the dismissal until June 27, a Friday. That day, she says she went to the law offices of Fred Taylor--where Dick Berry and many People's Paralegal staff members now reside.

There, she demanded $160--the cost to refile a bankruptcy--and asked the firm to prepare her Chapter 13 petition free.

"I was basically in their face until they came around to my point of view," Bregio says. "They filled everything out again--which I checked very, very carefully. . . . But I couldn't get it to court until the following Monday."

The Bregios' debts again were frozen when the clerk accepted her latest bankruptcy filing on the morning of June 30. But word apparently didn't get to the finance company, which unleashed its repo man.

The Bregios got the truck back later that day after making two months' worth of truck payments in advance.

Then she drove straight to the law offices of Fred Taylor/People's Paralegal.

"I stampeded in because I wanted everyone to know how dangerous they are, how they had put us into this hell," Bregio says. ". . . Dick Berry slammed his door. Fred Taylor was nowhere to be seen, not that he'd know what to do. They started this mess, and I wanted them to know I didn't forget that."

She says she decided to ask a trick question of a female employee of People's Paralegal with whom she had previous dealings.

"I asked her, 'What am I supposed to do, pay them [the finance company] or not pay them?' just to see what she'd say."

The employee, Bregio says, suggested that Bregio not pay.
"She told me, 'We can take care of this for you. Legally, you don't have to pay nothing.' I knew that, but I couldn't believe she had the audacity to give me legal advice after all this.

"I told her, 'Hey, you're giving me legal advice. You can't do that. Anyway, you guys are shut down.' She comes back with this, 'Oh, yes, we can. We're a law office now.'

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