By Paul Rubin
You may recall our stories on Gary Karpin, the disbarred Vermont attorney who moved to Arizona in the mid-1990s and proceeded to rip off a whole bunch of folks with his faux-lawfirm, "Divorce With Dignity." Here's the first of the stories, published way back in 2002.
That the guy is a blowhard became obvious to us during the reporting of the first story, as we noted in this item published after the story hit.
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office took heed after a 2005 story about Karpin's continued business dealings, and later that year, white-collar prosecutors secured a grand jury to indict the 57-year-old Gilbert resident.
Anyway, Karpin's trial on a few dozen criminal charges (theft and fraudulent schemes) has started down at Maricopa County Superior Court, and we'll let you know how it goes.
Karpin is representing himself, trying to buck the old legal saw that he who serves as his own lawyer has a fool for a client. He was glib and occasionally articulate in his opening statement to a 16-person jury, which includes four alternates to be selected at random after the closing arguments, which are expected sometime in October.
"Was there negligence?" he asked rhetorically in his statement. "Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But was there a material misrepresentation? The answer is no. Without [that], there is no crime. And without the crime, there is no conviction."
Prosecutor Annielaurie Van Wie began the state's case with a bang, calling alleged victim Gina Niedzwiecki as her first--and very key--witness.
Niedzwiecki testified that she paid Karpin--who she said she believed to be a licensed attorney--more than $87,000 to represent her interests in what had been a relatively simple divorce from her husband of two decades.
"I truly believed Mr. Karpin had my best interests at heart," an emotional Niedzwiecki told the jury, adding that Karpin had promised to work for the best interests of her two young daughters.
"Best interests of the children!" she said. "I just didn't know it was going to be his children, not mine."
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Niedzwiecki is expected to resume her testimony tomorrow. Karpin's cross-examination of his former "client" may be one of the pivotal parts of what promises to be a humdinger of a trial.
Karpin was an attorney in Vermont, for at least six years. But a hearing officer for the State Bar of Vermont wrote of him in 1991: "[He has] engaged in an unprecedented pattern of submitting false statements, submitting false evidence and using other deceptive practices."
Check out this 1992 report filed with the Supreme Court of Vermont by that state's Professional Conduct Board, back when Karpin legally still had the title Esq. after his name.
Now, 16 years after that less-than-glowing review, he is looking at a long time in prison if convicted in Judge Warren Granville's courtroom.