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White-Collar Crime

Lawyer Accused of Forging Judge’s Signature on Orders in 4 Adoption Cases

Posted Aug 11, 2010 1:28 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Georgia family practitioner was arrested at her Stockbridge law office yesterday after allegedly forging a judge's signature on court orders terminating parental rights in four different adoption cases.

Lynn McNeese Swank, 60, is accused of falsely informing her client, the Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, that she had made progress on the cases when in fact that wasn't so, apparently in order to obtain payment for legal services that weren't provided. She allegedly forged Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan's signature on the orders and filed them with the court clerk after the client became impatient and sent her a termination letter, according to the Fulton County Daily Report.

She was charged with four counts of forgery, two counts of perjury and one count of theft by deception, states the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Noticing a typo in the mother's name on one of the orders, the charity took it directly to Tusan for correction. A staff attorney in her office then spotted the apparent forgery of the judge's signature, which led to a further investigation that revealed the other alleged forgeries of Tusan's signature on the other three orders, the Daily Report article explains.

"We were very surprised," Pat Chivers, an archdiocese spokeswoman, told the AJC. "We had worked with her before and had no problems."

Asked by the judge to provide a sworn explanation, Swank is accused of pointing the finger at her ex-husband and and telling the judge that he must have forged the orders because he had filed them, the Daily Report says. However, a subsequent probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which was called in by Tusan, determined that Swank's ex-husband, who is not identified in the article, had been out of state at the time the orders were filed.

The Daily Report could not reach Swank or her lawyer for comment.

A GBI press release provides additional details.

At last report, Swank was being held in the Fulton County Jail.

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