The Arizona Court of Appeals has upheld the criminal convictions of Gary Karpin Jr., a.k.a. "Dr. Buzzard," a disbarred attorney who preyed on people, mostly women, who hired him as a "mediator" in their pending divorce cases.
The unanimous appellate decision upholding Karpin's convictions on 23 counts of theft and one count of fraud means he probably will remain incarcerated for about another dozen years.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville sentenced the slick-talking con man in November 2008 to a 16-year prison term, with credit for some time already served.
We first exposed Karpin's misdeeds in a 2005 story that led to a criminal investigation by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, a subsequent grand jury indictment, a jury trial, and, finally, convictions and sentencing.
We dubbed him "Dr. Buzzard," in a reference both his lies about having earned a doctoral degree and to his vulturous method of ripping off people about to embark on getting a divorce.
His "mediation" business, at 32nd Street and Shea Boulevard, was alternately called Divorce With Dignity, Divorce Associates, and Relationships With Dignity.
Karpin threatened to sue us several times before and after publication of our first story, but he never did, instead taking the State Bar of Arizona to court (and losing) in various actions.
The former Gilbert resident represented himself at his criminal trial, an ill-fated decision that lent credence to the old saw about he who represents himself (or herself, natch) has a fool for a client.
The 13-page appellate decision authored by Judge Patricia Orozco noted that "the evidence showed that [Karpin] carried out his work under a number of different business names with advertising that included misrepresentations and misleading terms.
"Even after he was advised by the State Bar that he should not prepare legal documents and should not use terms that gave potential clients the misimpression that he was to engage in the practice of law in Arizona, [he] continued to do so until he was arrested."
The court concluded that the evidence at trial was "sufficient to support the jury's finding that [Karpin] knowingly engaged in a plan to mislead or defraud clients through a series of false representations and omissions.
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