Last year, attorney Andrew Gavin Wynne found himself on the wrong end of an indictment leveling five counts of identity theft for faking documents up to and including court orders and judgments. Wynne pleaded guilty and earlier this week, received a prison sentence of 31 months and an order to pay $351,000 in restitution.
The Missouri attorney worked at the firm of Menees, Menees & Wynne — now known as Menees & Menees for unsurprising reasons — and filed multiple fake orders throughout his matters. As the ABA Journal noted at the time:
In one case, Wynne allegedly faked a final divorce order that required the husband to pay $900 in child support, according to an ethics filing that is cited by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In another, Wynne allegedly created an order of contempt requiring the husband to pay $20,000 within 15 days and then half his income plus $2,500 every month.
It’s shocking that an attorney can get away with this today. Dockets are increasingly electronic and searchable. Even pro se litigants can check to verify orders that seem out of whack. Did no one ever think to challenge these expensive rulings? Every allegation in the case tracks as a stunt that would barely fly in the 1980s, much less the 2020s.
And the most absurd part of working at Above the Law is that this isn’t even the worst “forging judge signatures” story I can think of!
Maybe a good reason to be as skeptical of court orders as you are of firm salary announcements.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.