Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
October 17, 2008
Susan Kang Schroeder
PARALEGAL CONVICTED OF PRETENDING TO BE AN ATTORNEY AND FORGING CLIENT SIGNATURES ON COURT DOCUMENTS
SANTA ANA – A paralegal was convicted yesterday of falsely representing himself as an attorney and illegally taking on civil cases related to divorce, child custody, and bankruptcy. John Gerard Hedderman, 48, Westminster, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of grand theft by false pretense, five felony counts of the unauthorized practice of law, five counts of offering false documentary evidence, one felony count of second degree commercial burglary. He was sentenced to one year in jail, five years formal probation, and ordered to pay $20,397 in restitution.
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 Aug. 25, 2005, Hedderman falsely represented himself as an attorney to clients, whom he generally met through personal referrals. He agreed to perform legal work, including divorces and child custody cases, which he did not have the authority to perform. He took money from clients under the pretense of being a lawyer for services that he legally could not perform.
Hedderman forged the signatures of clients, as well as the signature of his employer, an attorney, on legal documents to give the appearance that an actual attorney was handling his cases. He filed the forged documents with the Courts.
Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.