Recent News

FSG obtains $23 million judgment in theft, misappropriation, and fraud case

IRVINE, CA, February 27, 2015 – Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. (“FSG”) today announced that it has obtained a $23 million final judgment in a California federal court against Utah-based, SilverLeaf Financial, its CEO Shane Baldwin, and related Baldwin controlled entities, for theft, misappropriation, and fraud.

Among other things, the complaint alleged that the defendants engaged in a pervasive scheme to defraud investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars through the sale of sham “participation interests” in loans secured by real estate, instead diverting those monies to themselves to facilitate a lavish lifestyle that included exotic cars, court-side professional basketball seats and private jets.

Characterizing the defendants’ conduct as deceptive and malicious, Judge Andrew Guilford levied over $11 million in punitive damages against the defendants to punish and deter future conduct in addition to the almost $12 million in compensatory damages. FSG also obtained a judgment quieting title to Silverleaf owned real estate worth millions of dollars, awarding title to those properties instead to FSG’s client.

“Friedman Stroffe & Gerard’s victory on behalf of Plaintiff, and the sizeable judgment awarded by the court, signals a clear judicial recognition of the centrally important role real estate plays in America’s economy and its intent to vigorously protect those who invest in it, in good faith, against the trickery and deceit of others” said FSG shareholder James D. Stroffe.  “As a firm specializing in sophisticated financial and real estate matters, our role is to protect our clients – through litigation, if necessary — against the predatory and deceitful business tactics of others, like those perpetrated by Mr. Baldwin and SilverLeaf Financial.”

FSG’s team on this case consisted of James Stroffe, Jennifer Stroffe, and Sasan Behnood.

Chavez joins FSG as Associate

Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. is pleased to announce that Anthony S. Chavez has joined the firm as an Associate.  Chavez’s practice focuses on commercial litigation.

Chavez represents clients in state and federal court in connection with various business, commercial, and contractual matters.  Prior to joining FSG, Chavez was an associate attorney at a large firm in Los Angeles, California specializing in complex commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense. Chavez gained experience representing clients in a wide variety of complex commercial litigation including antitrust, unfair competition, breach of contract, and fraud.

Chavez received his B.A. degree from Stanford University in 2008 and J.D. from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law in 2012.

While in law school, Chavez served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Judge Kim Wardlaw at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California and a judicial extern to the Honorable Magistrate Judge Andrew Wistrich at the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, California.


Prominent business litigator Robert Adel joins FSG

Prominent business litigation attorney Robert E. Adel has joined Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C.  Adel most recently was a shareholder at the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig.   

Adel is another in the group of high-profile attorneys that could be called “big firm refugees,” those who have recently left large national law firms because their middle-market business clients have balked at the high hourly rates.  Smaller firms such as Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C., have substantially lower rates, so their clients can receive the same service and results at up to one-half the cost.  Adel’s clients have included Plasticolor Molded Products, Inc., Hologic Corp., Road Ready Registration, Inc., Chase Merritt and W.S. Dodge Oil, Inc. 

Adel is recognized as being in a small group nationwide of elite litigators with particular expertise in mergers and acquisitions litigation, involving working capital adjustments, earn-outs, representations and warranties in stock and asset purchase agreements, and related disputes. He has over 20 years’ experience in business litigation, including securities and consumer class actions, construction defects, product liability, professional negligence, fiduciary duties, unfair competition, and disputes involving mergers & acquisitions, real estate purchase and sale transactions, and partnerships. 

Adel received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara, summa cum laude, and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall).  He is a member of the State Bar of California, Litigation Section; Orange County Bar Association, Business Litigation Section, Mandatory Fee Arbitration Committee; Opus Connect (Co-Chair of Orange County mergers & acquisitions chapter); and the Association of Business Trial Lawyers. 

“We are very excited to have such an exceptional litigator as Rob Adel join our firm,” says James D. Stroffe, managing shareholder. “Rob is well known throughout the legal community for his effective litigation skills across a broad range of matters.  He will be a tremendous asset in serving FSG’s clients.”


FSG represents action sports apparel company Brixton in investment deal

Brixton, an Oceanside-based lifestyle apparel company, has announced a partnership with investment firm Altamont Capital Partners to support the company’s continued growth and development.  Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. partner Bryan Friedman and associate Jennifer Stroffe represented Brixton in all legal aspects of the transaction.   Financial terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.


Jennifer Stroffe Discusses Impact of New Office Leasing Trends

FSG attorney Jennifer Stroffe was recently featured in an article discussing “creative office” spaces in Orange County.  In the article, “Should You Model Your Office After a Skateboard Company’s?”, she points out that action sports companies have been some of the first to push to fully integrated creative offices.  This trend is being driven by the culture and purpose of these companies — to recruit and retain top talent, to promote creativity and cutting edge product, and promote work/life balance. Read the full article.

Also see: “Creative Office is … What?” for a brief overview of the panel discussion, highlights and photos at

Questions? Contact Jennifer Stroffe at

“Orange County Office of the Future” Seminar a Smashing Success

Over 250 people attended the Orange County Office of the Future” seminar last week,co-hosted by Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. at The gen2 Building in Irvine.

The seminar featured leading national and local figures in real estate, offering insights into one of real estate’s hottest topics. Speakers included Friedman Stroffe & Gerard’s Jennifer Stroffe and top real estate professionals from Prudential Real Estate Investors, PIMCO, Hulu, IA Interior Architects, Tangram Interiors, Bixby Land Company and more.

All over Orange County, many tenants are redefining the term “office.”  It’s not just tech tenants in Silicon Valley who are demanding the creative office space now—here in Orange County all types of tenants want in. 

But what is “creative office space”? The panelists grappled with the question, and while there is no single answer, part of it is meeting tenant expectations for open floor plans and amenities such as break out rooms and game rooms to promote collaboration. Another part is owners and developers taking the initiative to offer features tenants might not realize they want—until they experience them. Outdoor space that integrates with indoor space is one example of what may be an important amenity that tenants themselves may not even know they want until they see or experience it.

Panelists also addressed questions such as: What creative tenants most signify this evolution and is it creative office right for every business? How is new technology impacting the demand for creative office?  What do employers need to know in designing their offices in order to attract and retain top talent? What are developers/owners providing to entice tenants to their portfolios?

The commercial real estate industry will continue to deal with this exciting and challenging design issue.  If you have any questions regarding topics addressed at this event or other leasing or real estate concerns, contact Jennifer Stroffe.

“Orange County Office of the Future” seminar on Tuesday, September 30

Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. would like to invite our clients and friends of the firm to attend an “Orange County Office of the Future” seminar on Tuesday, September 30, 8:00-11:00 a.m. at The gen2 Building in Irvine.

Over 200 people are expected to attend this event, which features leading national and local figures in real estate for a real-time look at one of real estate’s hottest topics. Speakers will include Friedman Stroffe & Gerard’s Jennifer Stroffe and top real estate professionals from Prudential Real Estate Investors, PIMCO, Hulu, IA Interior Architects, Tangram Interiors, Bixby Land Company and more.

Learn more about the some of the speakers’ thoughts on the current the demand by tenants for elements of “creative” office, including our own, Jennifer Stroffe, at

We are looking forward to this event, and hope you’ll be able to attend.   If you would like to attend, click here for more information (as a special offer to our friends and clients, enter discount code “FriedmanOC” at checkout to receive a 20% discount).

Surf Industry Waterman’s Ball event

(photo: Bryan and Sandy Friedman, Jim and Gayle Stroffe and Robin Gerard enjoy supporting the Waterman’s Ball)

FSG attorneys and family members recently attended the 25th annual “Waterman’s Ball” on August 9, 2014 at the Ritz-Carlton in Orange County. More than 600 surf industry executives and friends of the environment attended the event, which raises money for the SIMA Environmental Fund. Over the past 24 years, the SIMA Environmental Fund has raised more than $6.5 million for organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving our oceans, beaches and surf breaks. The Waterman’s Ball includes both a silent and live auction, as well as a time of recognition to the 2014 Waterman’s Weekend honorees – individuals who have made a lasting impact on the surf industry and are dedicated to protecting our ocean environment. All funds raised during the Waterman’s Ball are given to the 19 SIMA Environmental Fund beneficiaries – ocean-related environmental organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving our oceans.

Those recognized included two-time world champion Tom Carroll as Waterman of the Year, Golden Globe Award Winner and environmental activist Ted Danson as Environmentalist of the Year, and legendary shaper Rusty Preisendorfer with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Also honored was the family of Hobie Alter, who passed away this year and was the recipient of SIMA’s first Waterman of the Year award.


“Minimum Wage Increase Effective July 1st!” article by Robert Gerard

Action Sports employers need to prepare for the state minimum wage increase, which goes into effect on July 1, 2014. On that date, California’s minimum wage increases to $9 per hour from the existing minimum wage of $8 per hour.   The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but when state and federal laws differ, employers must comply with the law that is more beneficial to the employee.   Read the full article.

Questions? Contact Robert Gerard at

“Legal Briefing” enewsletter – May 2014

This communication is another tool that we use to inform our clients and colleagues of recent legal developments and useful concepts to help manage their business and personal affairs.

In this issue:

  • Article: “Infringement of Intellectual Property,” by Bryan M. Friedman (discover the boundaries to minimize financial exposure)
  • Article: “Selling Your Business: How to Bridge the Seller vs. Buyer Price Gap?”, by Martin C. Groh (creative thinking can yield large dividends for sellers)
  • Recent Engagements: To help clients understand ways that we can help them besides current matters, we briefly describe engagements of interest.  In this issue, we discuss “Wage & Hour Class Action” lawsuits.
  • Practice Profile: As a full-service business law firm, FSG represents its clients in a wide variety of business transactions and civil litigation.  This month we profile our Corporate & Business Practice Group’s services.

May 2014 issue