Law Catching up to 'Son of Super Swindler' Just as Infamous Dad Gets Out of Prison

Categories: Crime, Law & Order
Paul Noe II, the apparent mastermind of a scheme the California Attorney General says was designed to bilk thousands of defaulted homeowners out of their remaining savings, appears even closer to having to suffer for his deeds.

"He's such an ass. I would love to see these people jailed, because they are so bad,"  said Palm Springs attorney Marla Tauscher, who in May filed suit against Noe and his business partner Mitchell Roth accusing them of fraud and deceit in connection with their foreclosure assistance scheme. "I don't even care if I make any money. I just want to see them arrested and in jail, because they've been so bad."

In September of last year SF Weekly broke the story about Noe's latest apparent scam, which involved seeking homeowners in default, then making inflated claims that his firm, United First, could defeat foreclosure actions -- for a fee. Noe was sued by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who alleged Noe and his attorney cheated at least 2,000 defaulted homeowners out of thousands of dollars each. SF Weekly received a call from the FBI in connection with the story, and a Southern California federal judge has said he'd requested multiple investigations into the behavior of Noe's partner, Roth. Not long ago the State Bar of California shut down Roth's firm, and allowed his former clients to obtain Roth's files, providing some of the basis for claims by Tauscher's four clients that Noe and Roth had defrauded them.

Under ordinary circumstances, news of Noe's additional legal peril would please us: SF Weekly has been following Noe since 2003, when we wrote about a "trust mill" scam he had set up to pressure elderly people into flipping their assets into worthless investments. But we actually relay word of Noe's mounting legal peril with a touch of melancholy. If Noe were to stay on the down-low, he might be able to orchestrate a final comeback of one of the greatest crime families in American history.

Just before Tauscher filed her suit, Noe's father, Paul Noe Sr., was released from prison at age 81 after a criminal career that made Noe Sr. and his brother, Clifford Noe, two of the most storied con men of the 20th century.

In 1989, Paul Noe II was convicted on felony fraud charges for his role in a scheme to buy an insurance company using forged letters of credit. The '89 scheme was hatched by Noe's uncle, Clifford, who, along Paul Noe Sr., masterminded a 1960s con spree that included looting a bank in Texas and attempting to fraudulently purchase a bank in England. The swindles became the subject of myriad magazine and newspaper articles, as well as the 1973 book The Fountain Pen Conspiracy, reissued as The Super Swindlers.

In 2002, the elder two Noe brothers launched another scam in which they claimed to own a trust company with assets of more than $1 billion, purportedly backed by interest  in the West Coast trust mill operation run by the younger Paul Noe.

"They were saying 'our banks have this amount of assets,' which was the phony paperwork in California," said Florida attorney Louis S. St. Laurent II.

Four decades ago, St. Laurent was the Florida prosecutor who put Paul Noe Sr. in prison for a series of schemes in which the elder Noe brothers worked with a loose network of around 100 international con men to steal $100 million in advance fees. It's hard to overstate the scope and wickedness of the schemes of these modern-day Professor Moriartys; at one point, they had managed to use forged letters of credit to attempt to buy control of a London merchant bank, then open bogus branches of the institution all over the United States.

After the elder Noes got out of prison about a decade ago, they went back to their old line of work. And In 2002, working on behalf of a private client, St. Laurent cooperated with the the FBI and SEC to bring a criminal case against the elder Noes, who had launched a modern version of their old "advance fee" scam.

Paul Noe Sr. was released from that prison term May 20. A Hollywood writer might have penned a scenario where the old gang got back together to pull off one last glorious scam. Sadly, Noe Sr. emerged from his prison cell to see the demise of his son's tawdry con scheme, which allegedly sought to victimize broke California Latinos.

"I know them. They will be involved in something. But I don't think the mortgage thing is their style," said St. Laurent. "I haven't checked on Paul Noe Sr. to see if he's involved in any of his son's recent transactions. But I will now."

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