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GBI: Stockbridge lawyer forged judge’s signatures
GBI agents arrested a Stockbridge lawyer this morning on charges that she forged a judge’s signature in four adoption cases and later lied about it on the stand.
Lynn McNeese Swank allegedly forged Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan’s name on orders to terminate parental rights, a step required before a child may be adopted, the GBI said in a news release.
The orders were then filed on behalf of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, which had hired Swank to publish legal advertisements and file court papers seeking the orders — services that she allegedly never performed, the GBI said.
Swank later testified that her husband must have been responsible for the forged signatures, but investigators determined he was out of state at the time.
Swank is charged with four counts of forgery in the first degree, two counts of perjury and one count of theft by deception.
Swank, a graduate of Atlanta Law School, was admitted to the State Bar in 1975.
Disciplinary records show she received a public reprimand in 1999 for advising both husband and wife in a pending divorce action without properly notifying them of a potential conflict, and later continuing to represent the wife without disclosing she had begun a personal relationship with the ex-husband.
The GBI’s full news release follows:
Georgia Bureau of Investigation
For Immediate Release
August 10, 2010
Lawyer Arrested for Forging Superior Court Judge’s Signature
STOCKBRIDGE, GA – As result of an investigation requested by Fulton Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan, the GBI has arrested a Stockbridge lawyer alleged to have forged the Judge’s signature on several documents as well as lying under oath.
Lynn Swank was arrested at her office at 157 Burke Street, Suite 111 in Stockbridge at 9:50 this morning on warrants charging her with 4 counts of Forgery in the First Degree, 2 counts of Perjury and 1 count of Theft by Deception.
Judge Tusan requested the GBI investigation in January after discovering that her signature was forged on four separate Orders Terminating Parental Claims. The orders were subsequently filed in the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk’s Office. The attorney who presented these orders was Lynn Swank on behalf of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta (Catholic Charities).
In February of 2009, Catholic Charities sent the first of four adoption cases to Attorney Lynn Swank. Attorney Swank was hired to obtain an order terminating parental rights with regard to these cases. An order terminating parental rights is required before a child can be legally adopted.
The investigation discovered that Swank was paid in March of 2009 by the Catholic Charities for legal services she did not perform by failing to make the required publication in the Fulton County Daily Report, the legal organ of Fulton County and by failing to file legal documents with the court. Swank told the Catholic Charities she had done the required legal work and had a hearing scheduled before a judge on these matters, but this was not the case.
After the Catholic Charities expressed concern to Swank in August of 2009 about her lack of performance, and in September terminated her legal representation, the investigation revealed that Swank later filed four forged orders in the above cases with the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk’s Office. A copy of each of the orders was subsequently provided to Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities reviewed the orders and noted that the listed mother on one of the cases was incorrect and a corrected order needed to be obtained. Catholic Charities took the order directly to Judge Tusan’s office and requested a corrected order. Judge Tusan’s staff attorney immediately noticed that Judge Tusan’s signature had been forged. Copies of the other three orders were subsequently obtained and determined to be forgeries.
Judge Tusan then held a hearing requiring the attendance of both Attorney Swank and a representative from Catholic Charities. Judge Tusan had an oath administered to Attorney Swank and then questioned her about the forged orders. Attorney Swank stated that her former husband had taken the orders to the courthouse for her and must be the one responsible for obtaining the forged signatures. The investigation determined that the former husband was out of state during the time the orders were taken to the courthouse. Swank also testified under oath that she had completed a publication with regard to one of the cases which the investigation determined was not true.