Posted Aug 07, 2014 12:23 pm CDT
A Brooklyn man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a lawyer’s identity and setting up a law firm where he met clients and filed lawsuits on their behalf.
The FBI arrested a man calling himself Shlomo Dickerman after two undercover agents posing as potential clients visited his law office, the New York Daily News reports. The suspect offered to represent them for $400 an hour and payment of a $5,000 retainer.
The lawyer whose identity was stolen did not respond to repeated notices in 2008 and 2009 requiring him to renew his attorney registration in New York, according to an arrest and search warrant affidavit (PDF) filed in Brooklyn federal court. 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.
Shlomo Dickerman filed a petition to practice before the federal court in Brooklyn, this time claiming to have an LL.M. degree from New York University law school. He appeared as a “lawyer” in at least eight cases in the Eastern District of New York, including one in which the FBI secretly taped his court appearance, and three in the Southern District, according to the affidavit.
In one Eastern District case filed by Shlomo Dickerman on behalf of an immigrant facing deportation, the court said the complaint was “hardly a model of clarity” and noted there was no one by that name authorized to practice in the district. The court treated the suit as if it were filed pro se.
An unhappy client on Avvo said Shlomo Dickerman “is a terrible lawyer who takes his sweet time in handling a case.” The client gave Shlomo Dickerman poor ratings for trustworthiness and responsiveness, but five stars for knowledge.