Criminal Justice

Paralegal who 'couldn't keep up with the work' charged with forging court orders

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A paralegal at a New York personal injury firm was having trouble keeping up with his work, which involved sales of structured settlements. So he forged the signatures of 76 judges on 117 court orders, between June 2011 and October 2013, prosecutors say.

Charged with 117 counts of forgery and possession of a forged instrument, Thomas Rubino, 42, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in the Manhattan case, reports the New York Law Journal (sub. req.). The New York Post also has a story.

However, the government says Rubino admitted responsibility in earlier conversations with investigators. He said the law firm, Paris & Chaikin, knew nothing about the forgeries.

“Each year, the workload increased and I had difficulty keeping up,” Rubino allegedly said. “I made the forged orders when I felt overwhelmed with work. I was motivated out of fear that the work wouldn’t get done.”

He literally cut judge’s signatures out of other documents and taped them into the purported court orders he created, according to prosecutors and his own alleged statements.

The court orders were needed because a judge’s permission is required before an individual can sell a structured settlement, which generally involves payments over time, for a lump sum, the New York Law Journal explains. In addition to its personal injury practice, Paris & Chaikin represented companies acquiring structured settlement rights.

Rubino no longer is employed by the firm. It self-reported, once it was aware of issues with his work, to various courts and enforcement agencies, and is cooperating fully, attorney Pery Krinsky told the legal publication. He is one of the lawyers representing Paris & Chaikin.

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