ST. LOUIS (CN) - City court officials say a serial forger stole a judge's signature and he may not be alone. A court official says Daniel Schaefer, 20, may have got the judge's signature from paperwork in one of his previous forgery convictions.
Officials say Schaefer created two fictional documents - one a memo from the St. Louis Circuit Court attributing his criminal history to identity theft and the other a bogus letter from the Missouri Department of Probation and Parole. Schaefer allegedly showed the documents to banks and potential employers, but was caught when a banker and a lawyer called to check the documents.
In 2005, Schaefer pleaded guilty to six counts of forgery for altering real checks written to him by a hotel. In February this year he pleaded guilty to forgery again, after posting as a carpenter's union representative and taking payments for an application fee. He received probation both times.
St. Louis City Court Clerk Mariano Favazza said Schaefer probably got the associate circuit judge's signature from a real order in one of Schaefer's court proceedings. Favazza said defendants are given copies of the proceedings in their cases.
"I'm wondering if this is the first one like this, or is this the first one we have found," Favazza told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "With the thousands of orders that get entered here every year, finding a counterfeit is much like finding a needle in a haystack."
Favazza said a criminal with a computer or a scanner could create fictional orders that cancel warrants or reduce bonds. The judge's signature on Schaefer's new paperwork was embossed with an official court seal. It is a new practice in the court.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.