Brooklyn Lawyer Arrested For Not Actually Being a Lawyer
A man accused of identity theft was in a federal court today after he was exposed as having impersonated Stephen G. Dickerman, a lawyer with an office in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn that has been involved in at least 12 federal cases since 2012. At his arraignment today, the man's lawyer insisted on the charade, telling the judge, "I can clarify that the name of my client is Stephen G. Dickerman."
"The government has really no idea who the defendant is at this point," prosecutor Lan Nguyen said in court today. Not even the man's fiancé is sure who he really is. Owing to the man's unconfirmed identity, the judge denied him bail.
"I don't know who this gentleman is," Judge Ramon E. Reyes Jr. said.
According to the New York Times, the man took advantage of the lapsed law license of the actual Stephen G. Dickerman, a lawyer with a 40-year career. From the American Bar Association Journal:
In 2009, an individual claiming to be Stephen G. Dickerman showed up at the registration office and received a copy of the delinquent notice form, which included the lawyer's Social Security number, date of birth, the law school he attended and his attorney registration number.
In a section of the form allowing for changes in personal information, the man claiming to be the lawyer wrote that his name was "Shlomo G. Dickerman" and listed a new business and home address, the affidavit says. He signed the form and paid a $350 registration fee. When "Shlomo Dickerman" paid his registration fee the next year, he included a letter explaining that he was using the first name "Shlomo" because it was his Hebrew name. The name change was not made, even as "Shlomo" filed subsequent requests, because legal documentation is required.
To assume Dickerman's identity, the Times reports, the fake Dickerman also listed having received a law degree from New York University. The imposter would charge $400 an hour for his services.
"He did not appear, necessarily, to be a good lawyer; he didn't appear to be a non-lawyer," David S. Stone of Stone & Magnanini told the Times.
But the FBI was apparently suspicious early on and began investigating. From the Times:
By the summer, federal authorities had become suspicious. At a seemingly routine hearing in July on a class-action case that the suspect had filed two months earlier, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation quietly observed the proceedings. One of the agents had already met the real Stephen G. Dickerman, the affidavit says.
Two weeks later, two F.B.I. agents, posing as potential clients, arrived at the Brighton 11th Street address of the suspect.
Taking notes on a legal pad, that man said he would represent the clients for a $10,000 retainer and $400 an hour. He handed over his business card; it read "Shlomo G. Dickerman, JD, LLM, Esq."
According to Sheepshead Bites, authorities raided the fake Dickerman's office earlier this week and none of the other lawyers there have been charged.
Prosecutors suspect, based on the driver's license found on the suspect when he was arrested by police, that the man might be Stephen H. Dickerman, who "appears to be a disbarred attorney with a criminal history," Nguyen said. Stephen H. Dickerman has been convicted twice of grand larceny and spent three years in prison. The prosecution is awaiting results from a fingerprint analysis.