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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty To Scheme To Defraud Consumers Of Legal Advice And Services

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JOHN LAMBERT, a/k/a “Eric Pope,” pled guilty this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in connection with a scheme to defraud consumers of legal advice and services.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “John Lambert represented himself to clients as a prominent New York attorney with a law degree from an elite law school.  But Lambert’s de facto career was one of a grifter:  he had never been to law school and certainly wasn’t an attorney.  Today, Lambert admitted to his crimes and faces time in prison for his misdeeds.”

According to the Information and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea proceedings:

From August 2016 through April 2018, LAMBERT perpetrated a scheme to defraud consumers of legal advice and services, by falsely representing, through web-based platforms for freelancing services, websites, emails, phones calls, and other means, that he was an experienced attorney who had attended an elite law school, when in fact he was not an attorney and had never attended law school.  Having misled his victims into believing that he was a highly qualified attorney, LAMBERT then provided legal advice and services to his victims, in exchange for which his victims paid him money.

LAMBERT’s victims included at least six individuals and corporations who paid him money for purported legal advice and services.  The victims hired LAMBERT to provide legal advice and services on a wide range of subjects, including issues with their credit reports, drafting a will, corporate and intellectual property law, and a dispute with a former employee.  One of the victims withdrew money from his 401(k) account to pay LAMBERT.

LAMBERT used the alias “Eric Pope” when communicating with the victims, and falsely represented to at least some of them that he was an attorney at a law firm called “Pope and Dunn;” had attended an elite law school; was an expert in corporate, finance, and property law; had worked with hundreds of clients, including “tech moguls” and “entrepreneurs,” in the United States and Europe; and was located in New York City.  But LAMBERT was not and had never been an attorney, and was not located in New York City.

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LAMBERT, 23, of Bristol, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  LAMBERT is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Caproni on November 18, 2019.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Woodside Schrier is in charge of the prosecution.

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
Updated August 6, 2019