By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
In a phone conversation that Gina taped months later, Karpin said he had "counseled with [Parks] constantly on your case with direct phone hook-up. With Judge Eve Parks, like I do almost every other day on all my cases."
(Regarding his supposed relationship with Parks, Karpin tells New Times: "I've talked with Eve Parks on the telephone and I know her in a professional setting. . . . I submit decrees to her, to her room, to her situation. I've worked with her a lot. . . . She's called me on the phone asking me to redo my paperwork.")
But Parks tells New Times that she's never spoken to Gary Karpin, and recalls leaving a voice message at his office only once in her seven years on the bench, to ask him to amend paperwork in a case.
"I emphatically deny that I talked to this man every other day, or whatever he is saying," the commissioner says. "I have absolutely no relationship with him, and I wouldn't know him if he sat in my office unless he introduced himself."
Parks adds that Karpin "doesn't represent the people whose cases come before me -- he's not an attorney -- and he wouldn't have any standing to discuss these so-called 'trouble spots' in someone else's divorce decree."
Court records also show that Karpin didn't file the divorce petition in the case until April 20, 2004. That was almost a year and thousands of dollars in fees after the couple first had met with him, and after he'd told Gina about Parks' alleged "trouble" with the agreement.
A few months passed, with Karpin repeatedly telling Gina he still was waiting for Commissioner Parks to get back to him. On June 1, remarkably, she paid him another $7,500.
Finally, in late July, Gina says, Karpin told her she'd have to appear before Parks in a few days, and scheduled an emergency appointment to practice her testimony with him. (Karpin denies this.) She says he asked her intimate questions about her sex life with her husband during the mock testimony, the relevance of which eluded her.
"I couldn't believe I had to go through this," she wrote later. "Joe and I had signed off our agreement months prior. Why did [Commissioner] Parks want me to testify before her? Joe and I were in agreement. Our divorce was not complex, and it just didn't make sense."
The meeting ended with yet another $7,500 payment from Gina to Karpin.
Court documents show that no evidentiary hearings ever were scheduled in the Niedzwiecki case, which means Karpin was lying to Gina.
On August 2, Parks' colleague, Commissioner Myra Harris, signed the couple's divorce decree.
Gina says she phoned Karpin as soon as she got the news in a letter from the court.
She says he asked her to come by to complete the "final paperwork" and to bring with her the last payment -- $25,000.
"He said 'corporate' normally charges 20 percent of the total award amount, which for me would be $36,000 [more in legal fees] . . . but luckily he got 'them' down to $25,000."
When she got to the office, Gina says, she looked on as Karpin pretended to make a phone call to alleged "senior partner" Robert Green Jr.
Gina listened as Karpin seemingly pleaded with Green to cut her a financial break on the $25,000 bill. Afterward, he asked Gina to give him $15,000 of "earnest money," after which he said he'd again plead with "the firm" to waive the remaining $10,000.
Gina again did as told, coming up with the money that day, she says, by borrowing $2,000 from a friend to cover the check.
But that still wasn't enough for Dr. Gary.
A few days later, he asked Gina to meet with him for lunch. Sadly, he said "corporate" was demanding the remaining $10,000, but might settle for $9,000 if she paid it immediately.
Gina says she arranged to withdraw $10,000 from her former employer's 401(k) fund.
Rob Green is a real attorney, though he's currently serving a 30-day suspension from the Bar for misconduct unrelated to Karpin. He had agreed in writing in July 2002 to oversee Karpin's work, hoping foolishly, he says, of picking up some spillover clients from the busy mediator.
But Green tells New Times that he looked at only a few of Karpin's files over the next two years, and says he neverspoke to Karpin about Gina Niedzwiecki.
Green adds that, by last summer, he'd written three letters to Karpin ending their association, at least two of them after learning that Karpin was using his name in advertisements.
"I had wanted it to work instead of being skeptical because I thought Gary could bring me business," Green says. "But I basically left him to his own devices, which was my mistake. He definitely was misrepresenting himself to people by saying he was an attorney. Clients that he referred to me told me that he either had inferred that he was an attorney or had flat-out told them that. It's not that he can't do good work. But I would say that he's a danger to this community."
After penalties for early withdrawal and taxes, Gina Niedzwiecki collected $8,900 from her 401(k). When she got the money, she says she mailed a personal check to Karpin for $9,000.