Retired Bucks County attorney, Randolph Scott (no not that Randolph Scott), has been indicted on tax and identity theft charges. The indictment charges Scott with defrauding a client’s estate of $1,758,193, and failure to pay estate taxes of approximately $520,351. If convicted on all charges, Scott, now 70 years old, reportedly faces a mandatory minimum of two years in prison, and a possible 31 year maximum sentence. The indictment includes allegations Scott forged the executor’s signature on checks which were then deposited in the firm’s account.
Professional liability best practices and malpractice avoidance, as well as simple common sense, would suggest that forging a client’s signature is a warning bell to an attorney that they are quite possibly doing something wrong. Nevertheless, this year alone brings reports of attorneys forging client signatures from Ohio (attorney suspended for forging client signatures), Illinois (attorney suspended for forging client signatures), Washington (attorney disbarred and facing criminal charges for forging client signature), and New Jersey (attorney disbarred and facing criminal charges for forging signature on deed giving him ownership of client’s property). While an attorney may be authorized to sign on behalf of a client, that is a very different issue from forging a client signature.