Foreclosure 'Break-in' Lawyer Is Back in Trouble

June 2, 2011

A lawyer who called a foreclosure on his client’s home “illegal” faces charges of breaking into the foreclosed home with his client.

San Diego lawyer Michael T. Pines and his client Rene Zepeda, 72, pleaded not guilty this week to vandalism and other misdemeanor charges in an incident that occurred in 2010.

Police say that Pines told Zepeda that the July 2009 foreclosure of his Newport Coast home was illegal and that Pines was overheard telling reporters and a bank representative that he and Zepeda planned to take back the home in Oct. 13, 2010. The two were arrested later that day after police say they witnessed them breaking a window at the home and attempting to break in.

Pines faces criminal charges in similar incidents in other nearby cities. In the past, the attorney has talked to the media about his unconventional approach of fighting what he feels is wrongful foreclosures. He told the Chicago Tribune in an article in January that he advises his evicted clients to hire a locksmith and enter the vacant house illegally. The clients then squat in their homes while he defends their legal right to possession. In the article, Pines admitted to breaking into homes at least a half-dozen times on behalf of clients.

Source: “Lawyer, Client Charged in Calif. Home Break-in,”Associated Press (May 31, 2011)