Dr. Buzzard

Mediator Gary Karpin preyed on vulnerable divorcées, falsely claiming he's a lawyer and a Ph.D.

"I did an exam of the Dumpster at some risk to myself," Karpin said, "and unfortunately the materials no longer exist. They were discarded in error. So I apologize to you; there's nothing I can do about it."

Gina spoke to the manager of the building at which Karpin rents space. The manager told her in a tape-recorded interview that "our maintenance people claimed that they really didn't remove anything."

Gary Karpin at his office, January 20, 2005
Paul Rubin
Gary Karpin at his office, January 20, 2005
Mark Poutenis

On January 18, Gary Karpin agreed to meet with New Times at his office. It would be the first of two interviews, the latter on January 20.

After a short discussion of the allegations against him (he denied any wrongdoing), Karpin mentioned that he had an appointment with Ruth Murray, the mother of eight and Gina Niedzwiecki's new pal.

Karpin said he was meeting with Murray to discuss her request for a refund of at least some of the $3,500 or so she'd paid him last summer for mediating her contemplated divorce.

Like Niedzwiecki, Murray once had become sweet on Karpin, especially after he promised at first to do her case for free. But their relationship had soured after unexpected bills started to amass, and -- just like Gina -- she'd watched in amazement as Karpin had pretended to call his "boss" to ask for a reduction of the bill.

"I thought, 'Oh my God! He's faking the phone call,'" Murray wrote to the State Bar in a 14-page handwritten complaint dated last July 28. "He went on and on [about] how we were the parents of eight and are good people, and we wanted to work something out. Then: beep, beep, beep, like the phone disconnected. I was sure at that point."

When Murray showed up for her January 18 meeting with Karpin, he asked if she'd mind chatting in the presence of a reporter. Certainly not, she replied.

"You know what," he told her, as the three sat around a table in a conference room, "when someone says to me, 'Can I get a refund?' I always call them back and say, 'Let's talk.'"

"Gary," Murray replied, "at first you said to me that you'd talk to me in court."

"You bet," Karpin countered. "After that complaint that you made, and the stuff you exaggerated and whatnot. The point is, I was going to wait, then get you into court, get you on cross-examination on the witness stand, and cut you into little pieces, figuratively speaking."

"I hope so," Murray shot back, "because that would get you into a whole new trial."

"You think I betrayed you -- I think you betrayed me," Karpin continued. "That's the harsh reality. People can make a connection, and it doesn't have to be sexual. Did we ever have sex?"

"No," Murray said, "because, as I told you, I'm not that kind of person."

Their conversation veered to the work that Karpin had performed for Ruth and Jack Murray.

"I was under the impression that you were a lawyer," she told him.

"Did I ever tell you I was an attorney-at-law?" he answered. "Ever?"

"When you told me that you might do it for free, and I said, 'I don't mean to offend, but you are a lawyer. All lawyers want money.' And you just laughed."

"Well, you had made a joke."

"And then you told me you would do it pro bono, totally lawyer language."

Karpin then asked Murray if she'd reconciled with Jack, the father of her eight children.

She said she had.

"Great!" he said. "Now, let me ask you a question! Could it be possible, just a little bit, that some of the work that we did, establishing communication, talking about the best interest of your kids, setting up a cooperative framework, contributed just a little bit to your reconciliation?"

Murray replied in a whisper: "I think Jack was jealous of you. He noticed something between us. He was surprised I hit him with the divorce, and that guys were still noticing me."

Asked by the reporter if she wished she'd never met Karpin, Murray said: "Do I have to tell the truth? He kind of ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped on it. . . . I felt like, 'Oh my God, I let him manipulate me and play with my heart,' only to find out that this had happened before."

"That's fine," Karpin responded. "But my policy is, if someone comes to me respectfully like you have, with a request for a refund, I'll give it to them, not a doubt."

Except if your name is Gina Niedzwiecki, who requested the $83,000 refund.

"Gina is exception to the exception to prove the rule," Karpin said, not missing a tick.

The reporter left the conference room to allow Karpin and Murray to work out the specifics of the refund. Later, she told New Times that he promised to get back with her.

Murray's not counting her chickens.

And as for her reunion with her husband, she had this to say: "I guess you can say we've really reconciled. What I'm trying to say is, I'm pregnant."

E-mail paul.rubin@newtimes.com, or call 602-229-8433.

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