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IN THE MATTER OF:

EVANS LAW ASSOCIATES, P.C.
a/k/a EVANS LAW ASSOCIATES, PLLC
a/k/a EVANS LAW ASSOCIATES, ELLC
("Evans Law")

JASON J. EVANS ("Jason Evans")

     (Collectively, "Respondents")

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FINDINGS OF FACT,
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
AND ORDER


                     

 FINDINGS OF FACT

1. On October 20, 2016, the Banking Commissioner (“Commissioner”) issued a Notice of Intent to Issue Order to Cease and Desist, Notice of Intent to Impose Civil Penalty and Notice of Right to Hearing against Respondents (collectively “Notice”).  The Notice is incorporated by reference herein.  (Tr. at 10; State’s Ex. 1.)
2. The Notice was issued pursuant to Sections 36a-52(a) and 36a-50(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut and Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
3. The Notice alleges that Evans Law acted as a consumer collection agency in this state without a consumer collection agency license, which constitutes a violation of the Consent Order dated September 6, 2012, that Evans Law entered into with the Commissioner; and the Notice of Automatic Suspension, Temporary Order to Cease and Desist, Notice of Intent to Revoke Consumer Collection Agency License, Notice of Intent to Issue Order to Cease and Desist and Notice of Right to Hearing dated June 8, 2015, that was issued against Evans Law by the Commissioner.  The Notice advised Evans Law that such violations form a basis to issue an order to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-52(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut, and an order imposing civil penalty pursuant to Section 36a-50(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
4. The Notice also alleges that Jason Evans acted as a consumer collection agency in this state without a consumer collection agency license, which constitutes a violation of Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes.  The Notice advised Jason Evans that such violation forms a basis to issue an order to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-52(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut, and an order imposing civil penalty pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Section 36a-50(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
5. The Notice advised Respondents that if any Respondent did not request a hearing within the time period prescribed or failed to appear at any such hearing, the Commissioner will issue an order that such Respondent cease and desist from violating Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes, and may order a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) per violation be imposed upon such Respondent.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
6. On October 20, 2016, the Notice was sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Respondents.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
7. November 2, 2016, Jason Evans requested a hearing on the Notice on behalf of Respondents.  (Tr. at 12; State’s Ex 3.)
8. On December 5, 2016, the Commissioner issued a Notification of Hearing and Designation of Hearing Officer stating that the hearing would be held on January 10, 2017, at 10 a.m. (“Hearing”), at the Department of Banking (“Department”) and appointing Attorney Paul A. Bobruff as Hearing Officer.  The Notification of Hearing and Designation of Hearing Officer also stated that the attorney representing the Department is John Mosychuk, Staff Attorney.  (State’s Ex. 4.)
9. On January 10, 2017, the Hearing was held at the Department.  Attorney Mosychuk represented the Department.  (Tr. at 4.)
10. No one appeared at the hearing on behalf of the Respondents and the Respondents did not withdraw their request for a hearing on the Notice.  (Tr. at 4-6, 17.)
11. At the outset of the hearing, both counsel for the Department and the Hearing Officer noted for the record that neither had received any communications from Respondents or their counsel excusing Respondents’ absence at the hearing or requesting an additional continuance.  (Tr. 4-6, 17.)
12. The Hearing was conducted in accordance with Chapter 54 of the General Statutes of Connecticut, the “Uniform Administrative Procedure Act”, and the Department’s “Rules of Practice in Contested Cases”, Sections 36a-1-19 to 36a-1-57, inclusive, of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (“Regulations”).  (Tr. at 7-8.)
13.
Evans Law is a New York professional corporation with an office at 5355 Main Street, Floor 2, Williamsville, New York.  Evans Law previously had offices at 3637 Union Road, Cheektowaga, New York (“Union Road Office”), and 3842 Harlem Road, Suite 400-329, Cheektowaga, New York.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
14.  Jason Evans is the president and registered agent of Evans Law.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
15.
Evans Law, acting through Jason Evans, has previously been the subject of enforcement actions in Connecticut, as more fully described below.  (Tr. at 15, 16, 18-19; State’s Ex. 6, 7.)
16. On September 6, 2012, as a result of an investigation by the Commissioner, through the Consumer Credit Division of the Department, pursuant to Section 36a-17(a) of the then applicable General Statutes of Connecticut, Evans Law entered into a Consent Order with the Commissioner in which it agreed to:  (a) pay $3,000 as a civil penalty for allegedly acting as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut without a license, and (b) immediately cease and desist from acting as consumer collection agency in Connecticut without a license in violation of Section 36a-801(a) of the then applicable General Statutes of Connecticut (“Consent Order”).  (Tr. at 15, 18; State’s Ex. 6.)
17.  Evans Law was subsequently issued a license to act as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut by the Commissioner on September 25, 2012.  In its application for the license, Evans Law disclosed that Jason Evans was Managing Member and sole stockholder.  (Tr. at 23; State’s Ex. 1.)
18.  On August 19, 2013, Evans Law filed an application for the renewal of its license to act as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut from the Union Road Office.  The license was issued on October 1, 2013, and was set to expire, by its terms, on September 30, 2015.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
19.  However, on March 16, 2015, the Commissioner received notice from Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America that bond number 775204879 CT issued on behalf of Evans Law with respect to its consumer collection agency license for the Union Road Office would be cancelled, effective on May 1, 2015.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
20. As a result, on April 22, 2015, pursuant to Section 4-182(c) of the General Statutes of Connecticut, the Division sent a letter to Evans Law providing it an opportunity to show compliance with all lawful requirements for retention of its consumer collection agency license in Connecticut.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
21. Evans Law failed to file with the Commissioner a letter of reinstatement of the bond or a new bond and did not surrender its license.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
22. Therefore, on June 8, 2015, the Commissioner issued a Notice of Automatic Suspension, Temporary Order to Cease and Desist, Notice of Intent to Revoke Consumer Collection Agency License, Notice of Intent to Issue Order to Cease and Desist and Notice of Right to Hearing (collectively “June 2015 Notice and Order”) against Evans Law.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
23. On June 9, 2015, the June 2015 Notice and Order was sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Evans Law, which was received by Evans Law on June 12, 2015.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
24. Evans Law failed to request a hearing or contest the allegations in the June 2015 Notice and Order, and as a result, on July 14, 2015, the Commissioner issued an Order Revoking Consumer Collection Agency License and Order to Cease and Desist against Evans Law (“July 2015 Order”).  As a result of the July 2015 Order, Evans Law was no longer licensed to act as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut from the Union Road Office or any other location, and was ordered to immediately cease and desist from acting as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut without a license.  (Tr. at 18-19; State’s Exs. 1, 7.)
25. On April 5, 2016, a Connecticut consumer debtor filed a complaint with the Department concerning Respondents’ consumer collection activities in Connecticut.  The complaint enclosed documentation that Evans Law identified itself on its letterhead as “Evans Law Associates, ELLC”.  (Tr. at 14, 19; State’s Exs. 1, 5.)
26. The collection letter dated April 5, 2016, concerning consumer debt, explicitly stated that it was “an attempt to collect a debt”.  Such activity would be in violation of:  (a) the Consent Order, in which Evans Law agreed to immediately cease and desist from acting as consumer collection agency in Connecticut without a license; (b) the July 2015 Order, in which Evans Law again agreed to immediately cease and desist from acting as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut without a license; and (c) Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes, which prohibits unlicensed consumer collection activity.  (State’s Exs. 1, 5.)
27. Upon information and belief, Evans Law’s self-identification as an “ELLC” on its letterhead was a scrivener’s error and the alleged “ELLC” company instead meant to self-identify itself as a “PLLC”.  However, neither “Evans Law Associates, PLLC” nor “Evans Law Associates, ELLC” is registered with the New York State Department of State.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
28. Evans Law has never been licensed by the Commissioner to act as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut from 5355 Main Street, Floor 2, Williamsville, New York (“Williamsville Office”).  However, in the consumer debtor’s April 6, 2016 complaint, Evans Law lists only the Williamsville Office as its location.  (State’s Ex. 1.)
29. Jason Evans is not licensed as an attorney in Connecticut.  (Tr. At 20; State’s Ex. 1.)
30. Beginning no later than April 5, 2016, Respondents acted as a consumer collection agency in this state from the Williamsville Office, and at no time relevant hereto were Respondents licensed to act as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut nor were Respondents otherwise exempt from such licensure.  (Tr. at 19; State’s Exs. 1, 5.)
31. Respondents acting within this state as a consumer collection agency without a consumer collection agency license constitutes a violation of Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes.  (Tr. at 19-20; State’s Ex. 1.)
32.
A maximum civil penalty of $100,000 per violation may be imposed upon each Respondent based on a violation of Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes.  During the Hearing, the Department requested a civil penalty of $100,000 be imposed upon on each Respondent based on their violations of Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes; and Evans Law’s violations of the Consent Order and the July 2015 Order.  (Tr. at 20-24)

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW 
The Commissioner has jurisdiction over the licensing and regulation of consumer collection agencies pursuant to Part XII of Chapter 669, Sections 36a-800 to 36a-814, inclusive, of the General Statutes of Connecticut and the regulations promulgated thereunder, Sections 36a-809-6 to 36a-809-17, inclusive of the Regulations.  The Notice issued by the Commissioner comported with the requirements of Section 4-177(b) of the General Statutes of Connecticut.  The Notice complied with the notice requirements of Sections 36a-50(a) [civil penalty] and 36a-52(a) [cease and desist order] of the General Statutes of Connecticut.  The Respondent received notice that the Hearing was scheduled for January 10, 2017.
The Commissioner’s broad regulatory authority includes the power to impose civil penalties pursuant to Section 36a-50(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut, and to issue orders to cease and desist pursuant to Section 36a-52(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut.
Section 36a-50(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut provides, in pertinent part, that:
(1) Whenever the commissioner finds as the result of an investigation that any person has violated any provision of the general statutes within the jurisdiction of the commissioner . . . the commissioner may send a notice to such person by . . . certified mail, return receipt requested . . . . The notice shall be deemed received by the person on the earlier of the date of actual receipt or seven days after mailing or sending.  Any such notice shall include:  (A) A statement of the time, place, and nature of the hearing; (B) a statement of the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held; (C) a reference to the particular sections of the general statutes . . . alleged to have been violated; (D) a short and plain statement of the matters asserted; (E) the maximum penalty that may be imposed for such violation; and (F) a statement indicating that such person may file a written request for a hearing on the matters asserted not later than fourteen days after receipt of the notice.
(2) If a hearing is requested within the time specified in the notice, the commissioner shall hold a hearing upon the matters asserted in the notice unless such person fails to appear at the hearing.  After the hearing, if the commissioner finds that the person has violated any such provision . . . the commissioner may, in the commissioner’s discretion and in addition to any other remedy authorized by law, order that a civil penalty not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars per violation be imposed upon such person.  If such person . . . fails to appear at the hearing, the commissioner may, as the facts require, order that a civil penalty not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars per violation be imposed upon such person.
(3) Each action undertaken by the commissioner under this subsection shall be in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54.
Section 36a-52(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut provides, in pertinent part, that:
(a) Whenever it appears to the commissioner that any person has violated, is violating or is about to violate any provision of the general statutes within the jurisdiction of the commissioner . . . the commissioner may send a notice to such person by . . . certified mail, return receipt requested . . . .  The notice shall be deemed received by the person on the earlier of the date of actual receipt, or seven days after mailing or sending.  Any such notice shall include: (1) A statement of the time, place, and nature of the hearing; (2) a statement of the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held; (3) a reference to the particular sections of the general statutes . . . alleged to have been violated; (4) a short and plain statement of the matters asserted; and (5) a statement indicating that such person may file a written request for a hearing on the matters asserted within fourteen days of receipt of the notice.  If a hearing is requested within the time specified in the notice, the commissioner shall hold a hearing upon the matters asserted in the notice, unless the person fails to appear at the hearing.  After the hearing, the commissioner shall determine whether an order to cease and desist should be issued against the person named in the notice.  If the person . . . fails to appear at the hearing, the commissioner shall issue an order to cease and desist against the person.  No such order shall be issued except in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54.
Section 4-177(c) of the General Statutes of Connecticut provides, in pertinent part, that “[u]nless precluded by law, a contested case may be resolved . . . by the default of a party.”
Section 36a-1-31(b) of the Regulations provides, in pertinent part, that:
When a party fails to appear at a scheduled hearing, the allegations against the party may be deemed admitted.  Without further proceedings or notice to the party, the presiding officer shall submit to the commissioner a proposed final decision containing the relief sought in the notice, provided the presiding officer may, if deemed necessary, receive evidence from the department, as part of the record, concerning the appropriateness of the amount of any civil penalty . . . sought in the notice.  The commissioner shall issue a final decision in accordance with section 4-180 of the Connecticut General Statutes and section 36a-1-52 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.
Pursuant to Section 36a-1-31(b) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, the allegations made in the Notice against Respondents are deemed admitted.
The express terms of Section 36a-52(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut require that the Commissioner issue a cease and desist order against the Respondents given Respondents’ failure to appear at the hearing.
Pursuant to Section 36a-1-31(b) of the Regulations, the Hearing Officer, deeming it necessary, received evidence from the Department as part of the record solely concerning the appropriateness of the amount of the civil penalty sought in the Notice.
Section 36a-800 of the General Statutes of Connecticut provides, in pertinent part, that:
(2)  “Consumer collection agency” means any person (A) engaged as a third party in the business of collecting or receiving for payment for others of any account, bill or other indebtedness from a consumer debtor . . . ;
(3)  “Consumer debtor” means any natural person, not an organization, who has incurred indebtedness or owes a debt for personal, family or household purposes . . . ;
(4)  “Creditor” means a person . . . that retains, hires, or engages the services of a consumer collection agency[.]
Section 36a-801(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut provides, in pertinent part, that:
No person shall act within this state as a consumer collection agency unless such person has first obtained a consumer collection agency license for such person’s main office and each branch office where such person’s business is conducted.  A consumer collection agency is acting within this state if it . . . (2) has its place of business located outside this state and (A) collects from consumer debtors . . . who reside within this state for creditors who are located within this state . . . [or] (3) has its place of business located outside this state and regularly collects from consumer debtors . . . who reside within this state for creditors who are located outside this state[.]
Respondents acted within this state as a consumer collection agency without a consumer collection agency license, in violation of Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes, which forms a basis for an order to cease and desist to be issued against Respondents and for the imposition of a civil penalty upon Respondents pursuant Section 36a-804(b) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes and Sections 36a-52(a) and 36a-50(a) of the General Statutes of Connecticut.

ORDER

I hereby find sufficient evidence to recommend to the Commissioner that the Commissioner ORDER, pursuant to §§ 36a-50, 36a-51, 36a-52 and 36a-608, that: 

1. Evans Law Associates, P.C., a/k/a Evans Law Associates, PLLC, a/k/a Evans Law Associates, ELLC CEASE AND DESIST from violating Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes;
2. Jason J. Evans CEASE AND DESIST from violating Section 36a-801(a) of the 2016 Supplement to the General Statutes;
3.
A CIVIL PENALTY of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) be imposed upon Evans Law Associates, P.C., a/k/a Evans Law Associates, PLLC, a/k/a Evans Law Associates, ELLC, to be remitted to the Department by cashier’s check, certified check or money order, made payable to “Treasurer, State of Connecticut”, no later than thirty (30) days from the date the Order is mailed;
4. A CIVIL PENALTY of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) be imposed upon Jason J. Evans, to be remitted to the Department by cashier’s check, certified check or money order, made payable to “Treasurer, State of Connecticut”, no later than thirty (30) days from the date the Order is mailed; and
5. The Order shall become effective when mailed.

Dated at Hartford, Connecticut
this 9th day of May 2017.                    ________/s/_________
                                                        Jorge L. Perez
                                                        Banking Commissioner


This Order was sent by certified mail, return
receipt requested, to Jason J. Evans, Esq., and
hand-delivered to John Mosychuk, Staff Attorney,
State of Connecticut Department of Banking
on May 9, 2017.


Jason J. Evans, Esq.                              Certified Mail No. 7012 3050 0000 6997 6452
Evans Law Associates, P.C.
5355 Main Street
Williamsville, New York 14221


Administrative Orders and Settlements