Man charged as a fake attorney

EVERETT — A 78-year-old Seattle man who tried to keep a woman out of jail may be the one who faces time behind bars after he allegedly posed as a lawyer in a Snohomish County courtroom.

Prosecutors say Charles Conrad Adams tried to pass himself off as an attorney last year in Snohomish County Superior Court. They allege Adams twice told a judge he was the attorney for a woman accused of child molestation. He represented the woman during an arraignment and also tried to negotiate a plea deal, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Charlotte Comer wrote in court papers.

The problem is that there is no record that Adams is licensed to practice law in Washington, nor has he ever been, according to court documents.

Adams was charged earlier this week with two counts of unauthorized practice of law. The first count is charged as a gross misdemeanor. The second count, based on three alleged incidents on Nov. 15, 2007, is charged as a felony.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Cynthia Larsen reported that she was assigned to prosecute a woman accused of sexually abusing a fifth-grade girl. The day the woman was to be arraigned on a child molestation charge, Adams allegedly called Larsen and asked to reschedule the hearing, Comer wrote.

Adams identified himself as the woman’s attorney, court papers said.

He agreed to keep the court hearing and the case was called before Superior Court Judge Gerald Knight. The court record indicates that Adams identified himself as “counsel for the accused,” Comer wrote. The woman pleaded not guilty to the charge and Adams signed court documents setting a trial date.

Larsen attempted to contact Adams using the Washington State Bar Association’s directory. She called the only “Charles Adams” listed in the directory. He told Larsen he wasn’t representing the defendant.

Larsen requested the woman be rearraigned a couple weeks later. Adams showed up to the courthouse and attempted to discuss a plea deal for his client, Comer wrote.

Larsen asked Adams if he had a Washington State Bar Association number and Adams gave her a number that belonged to an attorney with a different name and whose license is suspended, court papers said.

Later, when Adams was called before the bench, the judge asked for his bar association identification card. Adams told the judge he left his card at his office. The judge questioned Adams further and he said he was once a member of the state bar but was unsure of his current status, Comer wrote.

The lawyer for the Washington State Bar Association made a sworn statement that Charles Conrad Adams “has never been admitted to practice law in the state of Washington,” according to the court papers.

At her second arraignment, the woman told the court she wanted to hire another attorney. It’s unclear how she came to be represented by Adams.

Adams has prior convictions for forgery.

Unfortunately there are people who try to pass themselves off as attorneys frequently, said Steve Crossland, who is chairman of the state’s Practice of Law Board. The board was created by the state Supreme Court to field and investigate complaints of unauthorized practice of law.

Most of the complaints involve people who attempt to prepare legal documents, such as a wills or trusts, but aren’t licensed attorneys. Frequently these scams involve elderly clients, who are looking for help with their financial affairs. In additions, there also have been reports of people who misrepresent themselves as lawyers to immigrants seeking assistance with citizenship proceedings.

But it’s unusual for someone to come to court and pretend to be an attorney, Crossland said.

“It’s pretty hard to fly under the radar there,” he said.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mark James (left) and April Berg.
Moderates may decide a million-dollar battle for state House

Democrat April Berg and Republican Mark James are dueling in the 44th, a political swing district.

Lilah 2 TEASER
Langley man builds automatic candy dispenser for Halloween

People are still finding ways to partake in the holiday’s celebrations in a safe manner.

As seen in body-camera video, an Everett police sergeant places handcuffs on Joseph Michael Hill, 39, while kneeling on his back. Everett's chief says it was reasonable use of force. Hill's attorney disagrees. (Everett Police Department) 20200524
Plea deal reached in case of Black man pinned by Everett cop

Joseph Hill’s arrest led Everett police to amend their policy. All charges except resisting arrest were dropped.

Three people were shot at the Boo Han Oriental Market Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, off of Highway 99 in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Charges: Boo Han shooter stalked wife, sent alarming texts

Duy Nguyen is charged with killing his wife’s friend and wounding two others at an Edmonds market.

A masked passenger sits in front of an empty row of seats on an Alaska Airlines flight from Spokane to Sea-Tac Monday evening. (Julie Muhlstein) 20201026
Flying to see family, it was a risk that seemed like a must

After eight months of not seeing my 98-year-old mom, a trip to my Spokane hometown was short and sweet.

Firefighters were dispatched to a burning home Wednesday night in Monroe. (Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue)
Fire crews fight blaze at Monroe-area house throughout night

No injuries were reported. Access to water was a challenge as firefighters fought the flames.

Darrington man sentenced in death of 2 horses he starved

He submitted an Alford plea, not admitting guilt but acknowledging a jury would likely convict him.

Capt. Robert Palmer (City of Snohomish)
Snohomish chief: ‘Please don’t open carry on the streets’

In a letter to the community, Robert Palmer also asks that protesters during this tense time remain peaceful.

TikToker Brett Kelly, 24, whose Pumpkin man character TikTok video will be aired on the CBS show The Greatest #AtHome Videos on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The TikTok ‘Pumpkin Man’ of Lake Stevens dances to TV fame

After his pandemic layoff from Macy’s, Brett Kelly, 24, has been adding to his 1.4 million followers.

Most Read