In the first criminal case referred to U.S. prosecutors by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Michael Levitis and his debt settlement firm Mission Settlement Agency pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiracy charges of mail and wire fraud. In U.S. vs. Mission Settlement Agency, prosecutors accuse the firm of victimizing more than 1,200 people nationwide from 2009 to 2013 by charging them excessive fees while failing to help them reduce credit card and other debt.
As part of the plea agreement, Levitis -- who faces up to 10 years behind bars -- and the company will forfeit $2.2 million. The company faces another fine of as much as $4.39 million. Guilty pleas were issued by four other former Mission employees, and charges against a fifth are pending.