Wholesale lender OCMBC calls lawsuit from HMAC ‘baseless’

Wholesale lender OCMBC Inc., which was recently sued by direct lender Home Mortgage Alliance Corp. (HMAC) over the alleged poaching of both key personnel and a wholesale lending brand, issued a statement this week that called the allegations “baseless” and added that any employment changes have been made “independently and lawfully.”

The case was first reported by National Mortgage News. Filed by HMAC in California’s Orange County Superior Court on May 23, it alleges that OCMBC poached a company executive and several key staffers while also aiming to capitalize on a brand name maintained by HMAC as a dba: Jet Mortgage. This is according to court documents reviewed by HousingWire.

The suit also names the executive who is core to the dispute as Michael Turturro, saying he formerly served as “a high-ranking employee of HMAC” and was also the divisional president for the company’s Jet Mortgage division.

The dispute

According to court documents, Turturro began working for HMAC in late 2022 as president of its Jet Mortgage division, and his employment agreement included a clause that restricted him from using confidential company information for his own benefit during his time with or after separation from HMAC.

At the end of 2022, HMAC alleges that Turturro directed funds to be spent on a marketing agency to further develop the Jet Mortgage brand using its resources as part of a strategic corporate plan. This resulted in more than $800,000 in payments to the marketing agency in furtherance of establishing the brand with the public.

In January 2023, Turturro’s compensation plan with HMAC changed to include control over another division. In June of last year, he was promoted “and cloaked in a position of extreme authority and influence over the business operations of [HMAC],” the complaint alleges.

But in May 2024, Turturro resigned from HMAC “without prior notice,” the complaint stated, with HMAC saying it was “informed and believes” that he is now employed by OCMBC.

HMAC alleges that “Turturro conspired with OCMBC to effectively steal the entirety of the same ‘Jet Mortgage’ division from [HMAC] — including but not limited to HMAC’s employees, confidential Information, pipeline, resources, and trademarks — through a deliberate and premediated series of unlawful acts.”

This allegedly includes the misappropriation of confidential employee information in late 2023 or early 2024, while being compensated by HMAC. It culminated in the alleged unlawful infringement of the Jet Mortgage brand by Turturro and OCMBC as they rolled out a brand name called JET Advantage Mortgage. The complaint also displays an ad allegedly run by the defendants, which describes JET Advantage as the “same great company” that now has a “new website.”

Turturro’s LinkedIn profile features tenureships at both Jet Mortgage and JET Advantage Mortgage as two separate entries under his listed employment history.

OCMBC response

On Thursday, OCMBC published a statement in response to the lawsuit.

“HMAC’s lawsuit is baseless, lacks merit and represents a clear attempt to engender fear and distract from the true motivations behind the lawsuit,” the statement read in part. “OCMBC firmly denies all allegations. The use of confidential information is categorically untrue and amounts to propaganda.”

OCMBC went on to say that employees “have every right to choose their place of work, and their transitions to OCMBC were made independently and lawfully.” The company also said it maintains “robust procedures to ensure brokers, who are publicly available for solicitation, are fully aware they are engaging with OCMBC, regardless of any trade names filed,” and that OCMBC “would derive no benefit” from an association with HMAC.

Additionally, the matter “merely involves the routine transition of at-will employees to a new company,” and any DBAs the company operates are “properly filed and marketed in compliance with county laws and NMLS requirements. This lawsuit is a groundless attempt by a less reputable entity to extract financial gain. OCMBC is committed to robustly defending itself and maintaining its stellar reputation in the industry,” the company said.

When reached by HousingWire, a representative for HMAC said that the OCMBC response constitutes a “distraction” from the core dispute.

“The loss of a previous, unrelated company a decade ago doesn’t justify what could be described as the appropriation of another company’s identity, staff, and intellectual property,” the spokesperson said. “HMAC dba Jet Mortgage is a licensed mortgage company in good standing in 47 states and the District of Columbia, and is an approved direct seller/servicer to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is also approved as a seller to FHA and VA.”

HousingWire reached out to representatives for OCMBC but did not immediately receive a response.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with an additional statement from HMAC.

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