Former lawyer indicted for stealing $600,000 from clients

Former lawyer indicted for stealing $600,000 from clients

SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - A former Shaker Heights attorney has been indicted for stealing more than $600,000 from his clients.

Paul Kaufman, 67, has been charged with one count of theft, 20 counts of identity fraud and 20 counts of forgery, according to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty. The offenses took place between 2009 and 2014.

The indictment names 15 victims, but prosecutors and investigators believe there may be more.

"Attorneys like Paul Kaufman are why so many people look down on the legal profession," said Assistant County Prosecutor James A. Gutierrez. "He chose to ignore his responsibilities as a lawyer and to cheat his clients, and now he is going to have answer for those crimes."

Investigators say Kaufman's schemes worked like this: The attorney would win judgments or settlements for his clients, then forge their names on checks and pocket the funds. Sometimes, he eventually paid his clients some or all of their money — though usually only after repeated complaints — and sometimes he never gave them anything.

Kaufman resigned from the practice of law in 2015 with discipline pending.

The investigation continues and more charges may be added.

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