Department of Justice seal U.S. Department of Justice

Debra W. Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2005
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

ORANGE COUNTY MAN WHO PRESENTED HIMSELF AS 'LAWYER' SENTENCED TO 150 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON


Los Angeles, CA - A Newport Beach man who held himself out as an attorney to courts, real lawyers and paying clients has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for false telling a federal court that he was a licensed attorney.

Harold Goldstein - a 60-year-old man who used the name David Goldstein, the name of a real attorney in Northern California - was sentenced late Wednesday night by United States District Judge David O. Carter to 150 months in custody.

Goldstein stole the identity of an attorney named "David Goldstein" and solicited hundreds of clients by falsely claiming to be a criminal defense and immigration attorney. Goldstein, who operated an office in Newport Beach, made appearances in both federal District Courts, as well as Immigrations Courts, on behalf of his "clients."

In September 2000, Goldstein was sentenced to 30 months in prison for selling victims bogus certificates of deposits purportedly issued by Citicorp. He completed this term in March 2002 and was serving a three-year period of supervised release under the supervision of the federal Probation Department. During that period of supervised release, he was not permitted to be in business for himself, and he had to have his finances monitored by an accountant to ensure payment of restitution to the victims of his first scheme. Nevertheless, Goldstein opened a "law practice" and began soliciting clients.

The second investigation of Harold Goldstein - who as a lawyer was using the name David Goldstein - began when employees of his "law firm" became suspicious when they saw a brief filed on behalf of Harold Goldstein, which asked the court to modify the terms of his supervised release. The investigation revealed that Goldstein was practicing law without a license, and in February 2003 he was indicted for making false statements to a court. After being released on bond in that case, he fled Southern California, only to be apprehended by the FBI in Las Vegas. Upon his return, the government added a mail fraud charge for soliciting would-be clients to retain him as an attorney. In August 2003, Goldstein was convicted by a jury of the false statement counts. In February 2004, he pleaded guilty to the mail fraud count.

At yesterday's day-long sentencing hearing, Judge Carter found that Goldstein defrauded more than 50 victims out of more than $70,000. Judge Carter enhanced Goldstein's sentence because the defendant targeted vulnerable victims, specifically, inmates in INS holding facilities awaiting deportation hearings. Judge Carter, while sentencing Goldstein to 150 months, commented that Goldstein's criminal history was the most extensive he had seen since taking the federal bench.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

#####

Release No. 05-049

Return to the 2005 Press Release Index

Return to the Home Page