|For Immediate Release
January 15, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
PARALEGAL CHARGED WITH PRETENDING TO BE ATTORNEY AND FORGING CLIENT SIGNATURES ON COURT DOCUMENTS
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying additional victims in the case of a paralegal charged with falsely representing himself as an attorney and illegally taking on civil cases related to divorces, child custody, and bankruptcy. John Gerard Hedderman, 47, Westminster, is charged with two felony counts of grand theft, three felony counts of the unauthorized practice of law, one felony count of second degree commercial burglary, and ten felony counts of false impersonation. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years and three months. Hedderman is out on $70,000 bail and is scheduled for pre-trial tomorrow, Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Hedderman was admitted to the State Bar of California (Bar) in 1988 but resigned in 2001 after a series of disciplinary actions were taken against him. While working as a paralegal between June 1, 2004 and August 25, 2005, Hedderman is accused of falsely representing himself as an attorney to clients, whom he generally met through personal referrals. He is accused of agreeing to perform legal work, including divorces and child custody cases, which he did not have the authority to perform. Hedderman is accused of taking money from clients under the pretense of being a lawyer for services that he legally could not perform.
Hedderman is accused of forging the signatures of clients, as well as forging the signature of his employer, an attorney, on legal documents to give the appearance of an actual attorney handling his cases, and filing the forged documents with the Courts.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Paul Bartlett at (714) 648-3667. Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.