Parsippany paralegal plea bargains – To prison for posing

I’ve previously noted several cases involving “paralegals” involved in crimes, I’ve avoid doing so of late, in part because there are so many of such stories in the papers. As I’ve written there are many issues surrounding these crimes – lack of attorney supervision, paralegals becoming part of a lawyer’s conspiracy (perhaps unwittingly at first) rather than reporting them, the effects such publicity has on the public’s perception of paralegals as a profession, the fact that the profession is often tarnished by people who are not really professional paralegals because just about anyone can call themselves paralegals, and the inability of the profession to “screen out” bad apples.  Today’s post focuses on the last of these issues because the first line of a report in the Daily Record is so striking in that regard:

A paralegal from Parsippany with a criminal history of thefts was offered a plea bargain Wednesday of 18 months in state prison to resolve a charge of posing as her daughter to get a credit card.

I do not know if this person was actually working as a paralegal at the time of the events leading to these charges, but she does have a history of working for lawyers as a paralegal because she has a history of stealing from those attorneys:

Yturbe was sent to prison in 2004 for stealing $35,900 from a Montville lawyer who employed her as his paralegal. She was released after serving nine months of a four-year sentence. She also has a previous conviction for stealing $3,220 in 2001 from an attorney in Morristown.

While these previous convictions (or at least the second given the amount) raise issues regarding attorney supervision, my question is why is it that “A paralegal from Parsippany with a criminal history of thefts,” i.e., how can it be that a person with this history is still allowed to be a paralegal? The answer, of course, is that anyone can be a paralegal. There is no “good character” requirement as there is for attorneys or for paralegals in parts of Canada. It is not likely that a lawyer with this history would have retained a license. At the very least, the Daily Record‘s story would say “a former attorney with a criminal history of thefts,” thus indicating to the public that the profession had recognized the individual as a bad apple and tossed him from the barrel. The paralegal profession does not have this capability and it continues to harm the profession.

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  • I blogged about this today too.
    What bothers me about “paralegals” like this is that it makes the job hunt so much harder. I know that can be true in any profession, but as I blogged about today, I recently went on an interview. His last Paralegal stole about $5000 from him, so the shields of distrust were in high gear when I went in to talk to him.

    It’s just very sad.

  • Bill says:

    About Paralegals and crimes and possible prison time…
    I was a paralegal for a firm in a smaller ski town. One of the partners was a municipal judge for the town where the firm was located. The other paralegal in the office was married to one of the partners. The firm had high turnover. The other paralegal screwed up a Notice of Appeal and I had to pull some charm and tricks out of my ass to persuade the Clerk to accept our appeal (of course on the last day we had to do so).

    I expressed my concerns. They responded by stating that I had resigned.

    I tried to get us all to enter into a separation agreement – we couldn’t even agree on if I quit or if I was fired – they also grossly over billed some clients and were being sued for malpractice. They started to immediately trash my reputation.

    My attempts to enter into a separation agreement were met with extortion charges (the police were too eager to assist their “judge.”

    I sat in jail for 10 months awaiting trial – was acquitted – the jury took 45 minutes to acquit.

    Looking for attorney to sue these people. I left the state but am now having to explain why I was held in jail for ten months with every offer of employment and it has resulted in some offers being withdrawn.

    Anyone know of a good attorney? I think this might be federal court as some civil rights abuses definitely occurred.

  • Bill- that is a freakin horror story.
    10 months in jail? I can’t even imagine, but thank goodness you were acquitted.

    Not sure where you are living, but if in Texas I know tons of kick ass attorneys.
    You can email me at paralegal@paralegalhell.com, or go to my website at http://www.paralegalhell.com

    Paralegal Hell

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