(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – After a car accident left him out of work and drowning in debt two years ago, Sal Palomba decided he’d try debt consolidation. He saw a commercial on TV for Carolina Legal Services and turned over his $25,000 of debt to them with an agreement to pay more than $300 a month from his social security, the only income he had coming in. 

He assumed his debt was being handled, he saw $333 withdrawn from his account every month but then approximately six months ago, Sal received letters threatening legal action. 

So Sal called Daniel Rufty, the lawyer who ran Carolina Legal Services for the six years it operated. The company provided debt, bankruptcy, and business law services. Sal said Rufty told him not to worry.  

And then last week Sal heard Rufty was disbarred. Now Sal estimates his debt to be over $30,000. 

Sal now thinks, “It was just a con, and I fell for it.” 

Technically Rufty has been suspended from practicing law for five years. This was part of a settlement for allegations of misrepresentation and misconduct. 

Sal, a self-made man and ex-Marine is reflective. “ I said I would never get taken and then you get took. I laugh about it but anyone can be taken. “ 

Luckily, a law firm has been appointed by the North Carolina State Bar to oversee getting people their money back. Which Sal, a handyman by trade, is grateful for. 

Sal, 71, tells FOX 46 Charlotte, “At my age….it’s kinda hard to even find work.”  

FOX 46 attempted to reach Mr. Rufty’s attorney but has not yet heard back.

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