A friend of mine sent me an article this morning about an attorney from New Jersey who recently pleaded guilty to defrauding his clients out of more than a million dollars--well, specifically, he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The friend sent me this article to "tweak me" and poke fun at the state where I lived for 18 years. What the friend didn't know is that I actually knew the attorney, who is potentially facing a long jail sentence and/or a huge criminal fine. In fact, I worked with him for a few years, before he left my old firm suddenly. The article on him is pretty damning, reading in pertinent part (names redacted):
"XXXXXXXXXXXX, of XXXXXXXXXXXX, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge XXXXXXXX in federal court to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. During the proceeding, XXXXXXXXXXX admitted that he fraudulently inserted the names of his former law firm’s clients into legitimately filed XXXXXXXXX suits and charged the clients more than $1 million in attorney’s fees, costs and settlements to defend them.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Specifically, XXXXXXXXX admitted, he obtained copies of legitimately filed XXXXXXXX complaints and fraudulently altered them by deleting a named defendant and inserting the name of one or more of his firm’s clients. XXXXXXXXX admitted that, unbeknownst to anyone else at the firm, he forwarded those fraudulently altered complaints by email, fax and otherwise to the firm’s clients, their representatives and insurance companies.
After notifying the firm’s clients of the suits, XXXXXXXXXXXXX – and others at the firm who were not involved in the scheme – undertook the representation of the clients, by attending depositions, answering discovery and even settling claims. It is estimated that XXXXXXXXXXX inserted his firm’s clients’ names into more than 100 lawsuits, resulting in the generation of more than $1 million in fraudulent fees, costs and settlements. XXXXXXXXXXXX personally benefitted from the scheme through bonuses and increased compensation."
The conduct to which this attorney pleaded guilty took place long after he had left my old firm. When I worked with him, he never seemed like the kind of guy who would do anything like this. He was diligent, worked hard and well-liked by the powers that be at that firm. I personally really liked him and was disappointed when he left that firm. I guess that it goes to show that you never really know someone.............