Pair Says ‘Impersonator’ Practicing Law in Fla.

     WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – A man “moonlighting as an attorney” in Florida managed to dupe clients and a veteran county court judge into believing he is a lawyer, a Palm Beach lawsuit claims.
     The lawsuit claims Christopher Donahue has been “passing himself off as an attorney in the Palm Beach County Court system, signing legal documents” and “deceiving judges in face-to-face legal proceedings.”
     One of the two plaintiffs, David Bouchard, says that after enlisting Donahue to represent him in a DUI case, he discovered that Donahue is not a licensed lawyer and had been arrested on a charge of impersonating an investigator in North Dakota.
     Before Bouchard became aware of the ruse, he claims, Donahue gave him advice about traffic statutes and discussed legal strategy with him at length.
     Donahue even appeared at Bouchard’s DUI arraignment and signed probation documents, falsely portraying himself as an attorney from Washington, the lawsuit alleges. The brief proceeding was purportedly overseen by Palm Beach Judge Sandra Bosso Pardo, who has been on the county bench for ten years.
     According to the complaint, the masquerade is played out in Donahue’s emails, and in the DUI case court papers, where Donahue is listed as Bouchard’s counsel.
     One email allegedly shows Donahue explaining legal matters to Bouchard and telling him about the importance of understanding the “genesis of the law” as it applies to Bouchard’s case.
     Jennifer Goldstein, the second claimant in the lawsuit, says she came to know Donahue after taking a job with his public relations company, Liquid Communications.
     While employed with the company, she says, Donahue tried to execute a contingency fee arrangement whereby he or Liquid Communications would offer her legal services in a prior workplace dispute.
     “Goldstein later learned that Donahue’s claims of having attended law school at George Washington University … and being a licensed attorney were false,” according to the complaint.
     Goldstein says she quit after realizing Liquid Communications was running a “covert law firm” and instructing her to bill clients for legal fees.
     In response to the allegations, Donahue issued a statement to Courthouse News, claiming that “elements of the complaint are factually incorrect.”
     He said he was a friend of both Goldstein and Bouchard in the time leading up to Bouchard’s arrest, and was trying to help Bouchard with his case.
     “No fees were ever paid to me or Liquid by Bouchard. This is a lawsuit based on many factual inaccuracies, Bouchard’s own requests, and a friend who tried to help another through what should have been a second or possibly third DUI conviction,” Donahue said.
     Bouchard and Goldstein are represented by Michael Pike at the law firm of Pike Lustig. Their complaint, filed April 27 in Palm Beach County court, lists Donahue and Liquid Companies LLC dba Liquid Communications as defendants.
     Bouchard demands an emergency injunction to prevent Donahue from continuing any alleged attempt to practice law in Palm Beach County.
     Goldstein meanwhile seeks damages for fraudulent inducement as to her independent contractor agreement with Liquid Communications. She also wants the agreement rescinded so that she is not bound by a non-compete clause.
     Donahue responded in his statement that Goldstein “has been sent a full release from her contract with Liquid.”
     “It seems that she is interested in pursuing her own avenue of work in the public relations industry. She may do so without restriction,” Donahue said.

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