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Stimulus Scam Targeted Stark County Residents: Legal Aid Hotline Set-UpPrintE-mailPDF

15 July 2011

Hundreds of local recipients of SSI/SSDI benefits may be facing problems with the IRS, and the potential loss of income and housing benefits, due to a scam that targeted Stark County residents between January and April of 2011. If you believe you may have been a victim of this scam, it is vital that you consult an attorney to resolve this issue and ensure you do not lose your benefits. If you are unable to afford an attorney, Community Legal Aid may be able to provide assistance.

Legal Aid has established a hotline for victims – call Alex Slabaugh at 1.866.584.2350 extension 2676 (toll-free) and identify yourself as a Stark County stimulus fraud victim.

Legal Aid is also going to be conducting information sessions in Canton open to potential victims and concerned community members. Contact Alex Slabaugh at the numbers above for more information.
Victims are recipients of SSI/SSDI benefits. Victims were told that they were eligible for a one-time ‘stimulus payment’ and that documents would be prepared on their behalf to help them claim the benefit. Victims provided information, including social security numbers, for all residents of their household and later received a debit card for an amount between $1,200 and $1,600.

The scam involved filing tax returns on behalf of the victims who, due to the benefits they receive, are not required to file tax returns. The IRS accepted the fraudulent returns and issued a tax refund. Some of the tax refund was passed on to victims as the alleged ‘stimulus payment’ and some was kept by the scammers. This was not a legitimate tax return, and by filing a tax return and claiming earned income, the SSI/SSDI and other benefits claimed by victims may be in jeopardy.

It is important that victims seek legal assistance immediately to resolve this issue and ensure their benefits continue.


Economic Difficulties Challenge Landlord/Tenant RelationshipPrintE-mailPDF

11 July 2011

In a difficult economy the relationship between tenants and landlords can be challenged by job loss, foreclosure and rising debt. Akron Beacon Journal reporter Betty Lin-Fisher spoke with Darlene Bonta, managing attorney for Community Legal Aid Services Inc. to discuss issues related to rental housing and Angela Smith, tenant landlord counselor for Fair Housing Contact Service, a nonprofit housing agency,

Click here to read the entire article.


Celebrate AmeriCorps Week!PrintE-mailPDF

12 May 2011

AmeriCorps Members Help Legal Aid Clients Access Justice


For a second year Community Legal Aid is pleased to be a host site for six AmeriCorps members who are spending 1700 hours in service to the community over the course of 12 months. The AmeriCorps program strives to promote a spirit of civic participation and service across the country, and the six members spending the year at Legal Aid embody that spirit. These members join the more than 637,000 other Americans who have been AmeriCorps members since 1994. AmeriCorps Week, celebrated nationally from May 7-14, is an opportunity to recognize AmeriCorps members and their service to the community.

The AmeriCorps members serving at Legal Aid – Carla Boyle, Edward Burns, Lori Schoenfelder, Kofi Semenya, Chad Setliff, and Anahid Thompson – are spending their service year assisting staff and helping clients in Legal Aid’s Akron and Youngstown offices. Ms. Boyle, an attorney, is providing support to Legal Aid’s Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP.) Mr. Burns helps clients complete documents to file ‘pro se’ (without legal representation) with the Court, and Mr. Semenya assists clients through Legal Aid’s health Education Advocacy and Law (HEAL) program. Ms. Schoenfelder and Mr. Setliff provide support for Legal Aid’s foreclosure attorneys and Ms. Thompson, also an attorney, works with Legal Aid’s housing team.
The members not only provide valuable support to staff and volunteers, but have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the need for, and impact of, Legal Aid. “It is an incredibly eye-opening experience dealing day in and day out with people in poverty,” says Edward Burns of Canton. “To see the way a large population of my community has to scrape through each and every day has made me want to pursue volunteer opportunities in the future and has helped me realize that one person can really influence another’s life.”

For Ms. Thompson, a newly licensed attorney and law school graduate originally from the Cleveland area, this year is an opportunity to start her career using the law to help the poor. For Ms. Boyle, a native of Cincinnati who is returning to the legal profession after several years, her AmeriCorps service year is an opportunity to put her beliefs into action. “We pride ourselves on a justice system that treats every individual fairly,” Ms. Boyle says. “However, without access to legal representation society’s most vulnerable and weakest members often cannot access the benefits the law provides. Legal Aid staff and pro bono attorneys ensure families who would otherwise go without help have the opportunity to obtain justice.”

The Board, staff and clients of Legal Aid thank these six members for the work they have done to help Legal Aid clients, and for their commitment to ensuring everyone, no matter their income, has access to justice.

To learn more about AmeriCorps Ohio visit To learn more about Legal Aid visit Need legal assistance? Call our HelpLine at 1.800.998.9454


FREE Legal Clinic May 2 to Celebrate Law WeekPrintE-mailPDF

21 April 2011
Need legal advice, but can’t afford to hire a lawyer? In honor of Law Week, local attorneys will be available to answer your questions about a variety of legal issues such as family law, foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce, child custody/visitation issues and end-of-life planning at a one-day clinic sponsored by Community Legal Aid and the Akron Bar Association. In 2010, 30 volunteer attorneys provided confidential legal consultations to over 100 members of the public!

Where:       The Job Center, 1040 East Tallmadge Avenue, Akron OH 44303
When:        Monday May 2, 2011
Time:          9am-noon and 1pm-4pm.
Questions? Call Legal Aid at 877.401.0088

Clients may begin arriving at 8:30 am to register. No pre-registration required – just drop in anytime throughout the day. Make sure you bring any paperwork related to your legal concern with you. There is lots of free parking available at The Job Center and representatives from various agencies, such as AMHA and the Department of Jobs and Family Services will be on hand to answer questions.

Why worry or let a legal problem go unresolved? Plan to join us May 2 to receive your FREE legal consultation!

Financial Wellness MonthPrintE-mailPDF

08 April 2011
The Summit County Office of Consumer Affairs is inviting area residents to participate in free workshops, classes and clinics during Summit County Financial Wellness Month in April sponsored by Legal Aid and other service providers.

The event will offer numerous sessions with different topics to be presented at various locations throughout the county. The sessions are designed to educate consumers about money management and to generate awareness of the financial education services available in the community, according to organizers.

Those services cover a wide range of topics, such as consumer debt, estate planning, a first paycheck, protecting identities, avoiding financial fraud and schemes, understanding car repairs and loans, improving credit, foreclosure assistance and more.

“Today’s consumers are becoming more financially savvy, and with the help of our partners in launching financial wellness month, consumers will be given the opportunity to gain invaluable financial information for free,” said Cynthia Sich, director of the Office of Consumer Affairs. “I encourage residents to attend one or more of the classes being offered.”

Local attorneys, credit and housing counseling agencies, financial and youth services, government agencies and other organizations will offer classes available to everyone.

Read more about planned events in the West SIde Leader


Ohio Bank Self Serve & FREE Tax FilingPrintE-mailPDF

04 February 2011
The Ohio Benefit Bank has released the newest edition of OBB online, which is a self-serve edition.  Anyone can use the free OBB self-serve edition to apply for public benefits, file your tax return, apply for FAFSA, and register to vote. 

One great feature is that anyone can file taxes if their income is $60,000 or less for free!

To use the self-serve edition, please go to:

The Ohio Benefit Bank has almost 1,200 locations throughout Ohio that can help low- to moderate-income Ohioans file their taxes and access other supports.  For more information, please see: 


VALU Program in Mahoning County Seeks VolunteersPrintE-mailPDF

24 January 2011

Want to make a difference in your community? Become a volunteer with the Volunteer Advocacy Legal Unit (VALU) Program in Mahoning County. Volunteers assist victims of domestic violence through the court process of obtaining a Civil Protection Order (CPO). Volunteers will work out of the VALU office located at the Mahoning County Courthouse. Training will begin in February.


Those interested in learning more about the program or registering for training should contact Legal Aid at 330.983.2599

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