CEO of Legal Startup Responds to Yesterday’s Post

Yesterday I published a post about Derek Bluford, CEO and founder of QuickLegal, and his recent agreement to have a judgment of $559,330 entered against him to settle a lawsuit charging him with impersonating a lawyer, forging legal documents and fraudulently swindling two clients. Bluford had not returned my call to him before I published the post, but he did call me yesterday after the post appeared, and we were able to speak yesterday evening.

Although he was not ready to provide me with a full response, he said, he wanted to set up a call for that purpose with him and his lawyer sometime next week. I asked him if there was anything he wanted to say in the meantime.

He responded that when he first learned of the lawsuit against him, he was surprised and shocked and had known nothing of the incidents described in the complaint. Upon investigation, he said, he identified a staff member at QuickLegal who had pretended to be him and who had carried out the string of fraud and forgery.

He further said that he had turned over all of this information to the police and that this person is now being prosecuted.

I asked if he could send me any documents to confirm his version of events. He said that he would provide me with full documentation next week but would, in the interim, send a police report confirming the initial report about the employee to the police.

He did send me a police report, but I see nothing in it pertaining to the events I described in my post yesterday. The report involves allegations that a terminated employee came into the office after hours and stole items and “hacked all our personal accounts.”

So, in short, Bluford’s assertion is that he did not do any of the actions described in the complaint. Rather, a former employee pretended to be him (pretending to be a lawyer) and carried out the entire scheme.

One surprise in our conversation was that Bluford suggested that even the plaintiffs’ attorney would back him up on this. I had already heard from that attorney, Daniel F. Pyne III of Hopkins & Carley in San Jose, Calif., who had previously emailed that he is traveling this week and couldn’t speak with me until next week. Even so, I emailed him again to ask if he would confirm what Bluford said. Here is what he wrote back in reply:

Derek has given you his account of the facts. I am surprised that he would identify me as someone who would back him up. I have no other comment on his contentions.

If it was not him who committed the fraud, I asked Bluford, then why did he consent to have judgment entered against himself? He did it, he said, to protect the integrity of his company, which had been in conversations with potential investors. “The only way to resolve this was for me to be a personal guarantor of the amount owed,” he said.

As far as I can tell from my reading of the court docket, Bluford has not paid any portion of the judgment to date and attempts to execute on the judgment have not been successful. The court approved a request to add Bluford’s wife as a judgment debtor.

I have not been able to confirm any of Bluford’s contentions. None of this was mentioned in the answer that he filed in the lawsuit. I hope that he and I are able to speak next week for him to provide more details. Until then, stay tuned for further developments.