Gary Karpin, the mouthy disbarred attorney-divorce mediator whose illegal courthouse antics cost his "clients" thousands of dollars and untold heartache, was sentenced on Friday afternoon to almost 16 years in prison.
A courtroom packed mostly with the con artist's victims listened intently as Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville imposed sentence on Karpin (pictured after his arrest). The prison term was five years less than deputy county attorney Annielaurie Van Wie had requested.
is arrest in 2005Karpin's misdeeds were first exposed by this paper in a series of stories, a fact that many of his victims noted in emotional comments to the judge just before the sentencing.
We dubbed him "Dr. Buzzard," a reference both to his lies about having earned a doctoral degree and to his vulturous modus operandi with vulnerable folks about to embark on a divorce.
The Gilbert resident often threatened to sue us before and after the after the stories hit, but more pressing matters, especially his subsequent indictment and indictment on charges of theft and fraud may have taken precedence.
Though the courts appointed Phoenix attorney Leo Valverde to assist the onetime barrister during trial, Karpin chose to represent himself at a weeks-long proceeding that ended with guilty verdicts on two-dozen felony counts. However, Valverde did speak on Karpin's behalf, sort of, just before Judge Granville imposed sentence.
"He's a bad lawyer he's a bad mediator and he's a bad liar," Valverde told the judge.
Prosecutor Van Wie echoed those sentiments, saying that Kapin "cannot open his mouth much of the time without having a lie fall out."
Fran Johansen, who formerly headed the Unauthorized Practice of Law section of the State Bar of Arizona and was a key player in Karpin's legal downfall, said the defendant "continued to victimize numerous people without remorse" until he finally got busted.
Several people spoke on Karpin's behalf, including his oldest daughter, Emily, who told Granville that her dad is "a genuinely non-violent person" with many redeeming qualities.
Just before being sentenced, Karpin, who was handcuffed and dressed in a black-and-white striped jail outfit, sat at the defense table and spoke from notes for several minutes.
For the first time in court, the usually glib 57-year-old broke down in tears and apologized to what he admitted for the frist time publicly were his "victims."
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"I acknowledge their anger and loss, the things that they went through, the harm that I caused them," Karpin said. "No matter how many people I helped, it's all gone and wiped out."
Though he spoke softly, the judge's icy response to Karpin cut through the courtroom. "You kicked [the victims] when they were down," Granville said, referring to the hundreds of Valley residents who hired Karpin as their divorce mediator.
Many of those folks apparently believed he was a licensed attorney, which he hasn't been since the early 1990s, when the State of Vermont disbarred him.
Karpin will be eligible for parole in about 13 years, when he is about 70 years old.--Paul Rubin.