Criminal Justice

Former lawyer is accused of using fake IDs to find well-paid law firm jobs

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A former Ohio lawyer was arrested Thursday for allegedly using fake identities to obtain law firm jobs in Washington, D.C., and Florida.

Richard Louis Crosby III, 36, of Mason, Ohio, was charged with wire fraud, Social Security number fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Ohio. Law360, Bloomberg Law and the Cincinnati Enquirer have coverage.

Crosby told employers his name was Richard Williams and he was licensed in New York and Washington, D.C. In reality, his resignation from the Ohio bar was accepted in September 2021, the same year he was indicted in Hamilton County in connection with the alleged theft of client funds. He pleaded guilty in the theft cases in May 2023 and was sentenced to probation the next month.

But that didn’t stop Crosby from seeking legal employment outside of Ohio, prosecutors allege.

Crosby was “briefly employed” by a Washington, D.C., law firm in June 2021 after creating the email address “[email protected],” an affidavit supporting the federal criminal complaint alleges. He asked that his paycheck be deposited into an account held by an entity called CM Alliance, the affidavit says.

In October 2022, Crosby was offered a job with starting pay of $185,000 with a $5,000 signing bonus at a Miami law firm. He allegedly used a former romantic partner’s Social Security number, passport number and name for the bank account he listed in the onboarding process. He was fired in April, however, after the law firm received an inquiry from a child support investigator who made the firm aware of his real identity. Crosby earned about $83,000 before his firing, the affidavit said.

Crosby allegedly used the same alias in July for an interview with a law firm in Coral Gables, Florida. During the hiring process, he allegedly sent an email attachment that was supposedly a screenshot of the name Richard Coleman Williams Jr. in the District of Columbia online bar membership directory. There is no one by the name of Richard Coleman Williams in the directory, but there is a Richard Coleman, the affidavit says. Crosby apparently altered the screen shot to add the name “Williams,” according to the affidavit.

Crosby was offered a salary of $195,000 and a $10,000 signing bonus, but the law firm didn’t hire him after determining he was using a fake identity, according to prosecutors.

A number listed for Crosby with the Supreme Court of Ohio attorney directory is no longer in service. The federal public defender’s office has been appointed to represent him.

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