The Living Lawyer Joke

Q: What do you call someone who allegedly forges signatures, takes clients for hundreds of thousands of dollars, lies to police and helps burn down a building in an insurance scam? A: Until very recently, an attorney in good standing.

Do what you have to do, he said.
Later that year, in 1995, Segal was charged with one count of fraud and one count of forgery in connection with the Johnson case.

He pleaded not guilty.

Theodore Joseph Segal was called back to Superior Court this summer--to answer charges on a second criminal case. The state contends that Segal and Vince Salvione, a longtime business associate, plotted earlier this year to burn up a west-side bar in order to defraud an insurance company.

Unfortunately, the fellow they allegedly chose to do the deed was a police informant.

Both Segal and Salvione, who would not comment for this story, pleaded not guilty.

The trial is scheduled for late October.

Liz, a retired widow in her early 60s, traveled all over the country looking for a place to live out her last years. Florida was too humid. Hawaii too distant. She finally chose Phoenix. People were friendly.

For reasons that will become immediately obvious, Liz asked that her last name not be used in this article.

When she settled into a Phoenix mobile-home park in 1991, Liz decorated it with English teapots and furniture with floral prints; she soon befriended a neighbor, "Mary."

It was Mary, also an elderly lady, who introduced Liz to her "friend," the lawyer Ted Segal. He had represented Mary after she'd gotten in an accident that left her permanently disabled. Mary had invested more than $100,000 with Segal, Liz remembers her friend saying, and he paid 10 percent interest monthly. Lord knows, Mary needed the money, seeing as how her only other income was a small social security check.

(Mary confirms that she's invested money with Segal, but remains steadfastly loyal to her attorney, saying she will testify as a character witness for him, if necessary. "Ted might do things with money," she acknowledges, "but he'd never commit arson.")

Segal learned that Liz had invested more than $100,000 in tax-free municipal bonds. Sell them all, Liz remembers him saying, I pay 12 percent every month. When she inquired about the safety of her future investment, she remembers Segal saying he was "insured" for millions.

Liz remembers that when she was young, her mother told her that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So she only invested $62,000--about half of her money--with Segal.

Segal put her in touch with Vince Salvione, who prepared her income tax returns. Segal's interest payments, she says, were not included on the tax returns.

For three years, Liz says, Segal delivered the interest checks regularly. It's only been in the past year that two of Segal's checks bounced, and that the payments were late.

And when she demanded her money, she remembers him saying he had to talk to the "investors" before it was released. That was several months ago, and Liz still hasn't seen her money.

"I have a feeling he gambled," says Liz.
Liz didn't call police or file a complaint with the bar association because she didn't want to rouse Segal's anger. If he thought of her as an unkind person, she says, she might never get her money back.

Liz says she knows of another woman, besides Mary, who invested a sizable nest egg with Segal. (When reached by telephone, the woman refused an interview with New Times, saying she'd just talked to Segal, who promised he'd get her money to her "one of these days.")

Despite rising suspicions that Segal had lost her money, Liz lent him another $5,000 in December 1995. She had entrusted him with a total of $67,000, half of her life savings. Her only other income is her deceased husband's social security check.

"I think my money is gone," Liz now says of her investment with Segal. "And if that is the case, I have lost a lot of faith in human nature."

She looks up from her easy chair. There's only one way to look at this, she says. It's just been a bad investment.

"Ted's lucky he didn't get strangled," says Liz.

Marlene and Charlie say they were "unsophisticated investors" when they entrusted Ted Segal with $216,000 of their sweepstakes winnings.

But were they unsophisticated?
Or careless?
Before signing over their money, they didn't press their attorney for a prospectus detailing where, exactly, he would invest the funds.

And when they demanded their money back, Segal returned only $50,000.
So Marlene and Charlie took their demands to Superior Court, suing their former attorney for fraud, breach of contract and malpractice. He denied he'd done anything wrong, but admitted he still owed the couple $166,000.

Now Marlene and Charlie suspect that Segal gambled away their money.
Nothing's going very well for them. Their lawsuit has been put on hold pending the outcome of Segal's bankruptcy.

And Marlene and Charlie are depressed and ashamed.
Charlie thinks back to a day in 1993, when Vince Salvione, whom they had hired as their accountant on Segal's recommendation, warned them about Segal.

"Vince says, 'Ted takes money from clients and gambles it away,'" recalls Charlie. "So I asked Ted for the money back. When I said, 'Give me my money,' Ted paled. He said it would take a little while.

"And that was the last time we saw him.

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