Law firm disputes allegations in Florida fraud case

The law firm that is facing a civil action in Florida said Thursday that the case lacks substance and probably will be dismissed. The firm, Facio & Cañas also said that it fully supports two lawyers who are accused civilly of extortion and fraud in the Florida case.

The Florida case is the one filed by Craig A. Brand, who operated Farmacia Express Rx Ltda,, a chain of at least 15 outlets in the Central Valley. He claimed in court papers that the lawyers conspired with investors in an attempt to extort money and, as a result, destroyed the firm.The story was published Wednesday.

In fact, said Ernesto Hütt, managing partner of the well-known law firm, a criminal case still exists in the Heredia courts against Brand “The facts that support the multiple accusation of fraud are real and very serious,” said Hütt.

Brand also alleged in his Florida filing that he was stopped from going on his honeymoon when he was told at Juan Santamaría airport that a judge had prohibited him from leaving. Hütt said this is not true: “Brand was in Costa Rica at the moment in which the criminal court of Heredia ordered against him the impediment to leave the country, which evidently made him aware of the claim against him.”

The law firm managing partner also characterized the prohibition, called an impedimento de salida, as a standard remedy granted by the laws in Costa Rica, as well as by most of the countries in the world to prevent a person accused of a criminal felony from abandoning the country and evading justice. Brand claimed in his filing that he was ambushed by the prohibition and that the lawyers used it as a strategy.

A.M. Costa Rica has editorialized that in general an impedimento de salida is unfair if the person prohibited from leaving the country is not informed and given a chance to contest it before finding out about it at the airport, as has happened to many expats.

Hütt said the story was not accurate that the accusation of fraud and misrepresentation filed against Brand and his wife is a malicious intent to extort money from Brand.  The victims are simply seeking the return of their investment delivered to Brand as any other investor would do, he said.

The firm plans to contest the case in Florida.

Hütt also asked that A.M. Costa Rica print his reply as required by Costa Rican law. The newspaper has specified jurisdiction in the U.S. State of California where the computer server distributes the news pages each day. In addition, the newspaper considered the Costa Rica right of reply law to be an unjustified intrusion on government into the news gathering process. Still, the newspaper agreed to publish the response as a matter of fairness.

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