Bad Lawyers

Florida Lawyer Sentenced for Faking Judges Signatures
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Summary: Disgraced attorney Jose Camacho was sentenced to a year in jail and 10 years of probation. 

After forging hundreds of judicial signatures, a Florida lawyer is finally going to head behind bars.

  
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The Miami Herald reported that Jose Camacho of South Florida was sentenced to one year in jail for faking signatures on financial settlement cases. But the crazy part of this story was that he wasn’t doing it to steal money… he did it because he was lazy! In court, he revealed that he was overwhelmed with his work so to avoid waiting for backlogged judges to sign off on his paperwork, he just faked it.

“I’ve always been responsible. I was raised to do things the right way. I had a lapse in judgment,” Camacho said.

Judge Marina Garcia-Wood of Broward Circuit testified in the case because he had forged her signature on documents. She had called him,”lazy” while on the stand.

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The “lazy” attorney was sentenced on Thursday to one year in jail and 10 years of probation. He had pled guilty to 14 felonies, and The Miami Herald wrote, “Camacho’s career as an attorney is now over.”

Because Camacho had faked eight Broward County judges’ signatures, a Miami-Dade Circuit judge was brought on to preside. Judge Ellen Sue Venzer said that his fraudulent deeds were “an attack on the system” and made a mockery.



“In today’s environment, lawyer jokes are abundant. You’ve heard the one about what’s 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea? A good start,” Venzer said. “You only only reinforce that stereotype, but you buttress the idea that lawyers can’t be trusted.”

Camacho specialized in factoring settlement cases, according to the National Structured Settlements Trade Association. A factoring settlement is where a factoring company offers “to make discounted cash payments to settlement recipients in exchange for their rights to receive future structured settlement payments.” These transactions need to go through the court system to make sure that they are fair.

In 2012, South Florida experienced a backlog of real-estate foreclosure cases, and this made Camacho antsy because he made his money with volume. Instead of waiting it out like he was supposed to, Camacho faked signatures so that he could submit his paperwork to the clerks and keep his clients happy.

“As silly as it seems, it was a matter of taking some shortcuts of a demanding, high-volume practice,” Camacho’s defense lawyer, Michael Dutko, said.

The prosecutor in the case called Camacho “charming” and that was how he was able to go about unquestioned for so long. The attorney also had law in his blood. His father was a Miami cop and his sister was a former prosecutor.

Camacho was finally caught when he forged Judge Garcia-Wood’s signature when she was out of town.

“I’m sorry for his family, but Mr. Camacho did something very bad,” Judge Garcia-Wood said in court. She asked the judge presiding in the case to sentence Camacho with more than probation.

Camacho is scheduled to begin his sentence next month. The lawyer is 47-years-old and is the father of three.

Source: The Miami Herald

Updated August 7, 3:10pm with information from the National Structured Settlements Trade Association 

What do you think of Camacho’s case? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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