Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tricks Of The Trade

As I've discussed before, early in 2005 I hired a former FBI agent and a former DEA agent who were working together as private investigators to look into serious problems I was having with a previous investigator I'd hired named Ed Hodges. The new investigators insisted I talk with a lawyer they worked with and spoke very highly of who was also on the Boerne, TX city council at the time. The former FBI agent even personally accompanied me to my first meeting with this attorney. It was at this meeting that I first realized Hodges had conned me. On the ex-FBI agent's advice, I immediately hired this Boerne attorney to handle the fraud for me.

At one point during this initial meeting, I also mentioned to this lawyer that I needed to have a new will drawn up. The lawyer said he could do this for me but it would have to wait until the fraud was dealt with because it was more urgent.

As detailed in "My Story" at the beginning of this blog, I became increasingly confused and frustrated when this lawyer kept stalling. (A sample email exchange of mine with him is posted at "They Said", 9/16/09.) I became especially concerned when one of my children and I photographed a car we believed belonged to Ed Hodges parked in front of my ex-husband's office during what was described to my other children as "a big meeting about real estate development in our neighborhood" and this lawyer still wouldn't do anything.

In August of 2005 I suddenly received a call from the Boerne attorney telling me he'd finally drawn up the new will I'd originally asked for. I was puzzled as to why he'd suddenly done this without my having asked again and even more puzzled when he insisted I make the long drive to his office right away to sign it, but he said he'd recently been less busy and had finally gotten around to drawing it up, so I headed down there. My oldest child, who was home from college, went with me.

When we got to the attorney's office, I was very surprised to discover he'd drawn up far more than just a will for me: there was also a power of attorney document, a guardianship document, a medical power of attorney document, a directive to physicians document, and more.

I was very confused by all the documents which had never been explained to me or discussed with me. I was also upset when I saw numerous references in the new will to the fraudulent trust Ed Hodges had altered and forged my initials on [Ex. 1], but the lawyer said these were necessary until the fraudulent trust issue was resolved legally. He suggested I go ahead and sign the documents and then if I later changed my mind about any of them, I could simply destroy the original to void it.

I hesitated for some time over what I should do and discussed the matter at length with my adult child. In the end, I did decide to go ahead and sign the documents.

After I got home and was able to study the documents a little more, I realized that one of them could be easily altered by someone by simply crossing items out [Ex. 2a]. I was seriously concerned about this and immediately destroyed that document. I also emailed the lawyer to let him know what I'd done and why [Ex. 2b]. His reply is also shown.

Shortly after this, I discovered my former father-in-law had been allowed to listen in on a confrontational meeting between myself, this lawyer, and the two ex-feds who recommended him. I fired all of them, and I immediately destroyed the originals of all the documents I'd signed and sent emails and handwritten letters to my children and several friends stating I'd voided all the documents.

I did, however, keep obvious copies of these documents (clearly marked as such). When I hired a professional document examiner to look at the fraudulent trust document in 2006 (see "She Said", 9/16/09), I also asked her to look at the copies of the Boerne legal documents.

The document examiner found numerous problems with these documents, some of which I'm posting here. Since I don't have any legal training or experience, I never realized that I was the affiant, not the lawyer and his secretary, who therefore knowingly signed some of the documents incorrectly [Exs. 3a and 3b]. Notice that these documents were also notarized this way [Ex 3b]. In another case, one page I initialed was swapped for an uninitialed page [Ex 4] when the secretary stepped out of the room briefly to copy the signed documents and bind them into folders--I know this because I checked all the pages twice and very carefully to make sure I hadn't missed any pages, and that's the only time the originals left my sight.

The document examiner recommended another attorney to me (see "She Said") whom I hired--and later also had to fire for conning me! When Ed Hodges stated in legal documents that he'd turned over documentation he claimed he had to my former Boerne attorney and the Boerne attorney would not give me a complete copy of my file, I filed a formal complaint against him with the State Bar of Texas that included copies of the documents he'd drawn up with the problems clearly marked. The attorney then provided an extremely incomplete copy of my file.

The State Bar of Texas refused to discipline this attorney in any way, so he's still practicing law with no complaints listed on his webpage. I'm posting these examples now in the hope they will prevent someone else from being victimized.

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