A former The Thomas M. Cooley Law School student pleaded guilty of theft by deception for practicing law without a license (or a law degree) in Walton, Kentucky. [Chillicothe Gazette via SBM Blog]
The man, Kelly Fulmer, apparently left law school a semester short of graduation. But he’s clearly not a quitter as he didn’t let that or a silly little thing like “I’ve never even tried to take the bar exam” stop him from playing attorney anyway.
Fuller also was active in the Walton community, where he was on the school board and was elected president. Way to be a role model, buddy! (The best part? The school board’s website had listed among his educational background as “Michigan law school.” But not that Michigan law school. That probably should have been the first sign that something was amiss, when he doesn’t actually say where he went to school). [ABA Journal]
Fulmer was caught when – surprise! – he botched a probate estate:
Boone County Sheriff’s deputies launched an investigation into Fulmer last fall after Florence lawyer Edward S. Monohan V became suspicious of his credentials. A woman had come to Monohan’s office saying she was unhappy with Fulmer’s representation.
After the allegation came to light, Fulmer resigned from the Walton-Verona school board, where he served as president.
According to KYPost.com, Fulmer’s unscrupulous handling of the estate of the his client’s father led Monohan to wonder whether Fulmer was even a lawyer:
Attorney Ed Monohan of Florence became suspicious when a client of Fulmer’s came to him concerned about the way her late father’s estate was handled.
“This estate was still open and the person was representing himself to be an attorney had control of funds he should not have had. He actually cashed the money too, which he should not have done because this was money that was not part of the estate but should have gone to the individuals,” said Monohan.
Monohan found records of numerous checks worth more than $300,000 had been cashed but not by the client.
When confronted, he says Fulmer came to him with a check replacing all the money.
Monohan said he did some digging of his own and found Fulmer’s bar license number found on court records to be false.
Fulmer had apparently been illegally practicing law for five years. Most of his work was in probate, although he handled a few civil cases and defended at least one drunk driving case, according to the KYPost.com and Chillicothe Gazette stories.