friday, 22 july of 2016

Huntingdon County woman exposed as a fraudulent lawyer sentenced to prison

A Huntingdon County lawyer, uncovered as a fraud, learned her fate in court Tuesday. Investigators said Kitchen had been practicing law without a license and now she'll face time in prison.

Kitchen was sentenced to from two to five years in a state prison was on the higher end of the sentencing guidelines. According to the judge there were several reasons for this harsh punishment and he said "not only did she pretend to be a lawyer but she pretended to be the best and biggest around.”

Kitchen was once a partner at the BMZ law firm with an impressive resume. She said she graduated ungraduated with top honors from Duquesne University, first in her class from Duquesne’s School of Law and even taught estate planning at Columbia Law.

But in the winter of 2014, it was discovered Kitchen was not a lawyer, by fellow attorney Gregory Jackson.

“It started very innocently enough,” said Jackson.

Jackson was creating a seniority list for the Huntingdon County Bar Association and couldn't find anything on Kitchen.

“It really became an issue quickly and that was only in a matter of minutes,” Jackson said.

Kitchen did not receive an undergrad or law degree from Duquesne and as for teaching at Columbia Law, 6 News calls to the school to verify were not returned.

According to Judge Fredric Ammerman, who presided over the case, the Attorney General's Office should have dug deeper, answered that question and many more, explaining how she fooled an entire community for 10 years.

Ammerman said the Attorney General's Office could have filed upward of 50 more counts of charges based on the evidence.

In response a spokesperson with the Attorney General's Office said, “We respect the judge's opinion but we felt we did a thorough investigation and that the charges that were filed were appropriate given the facts of the case,” said Jeffrey Johnson.

Judge Ammerman said Kitchen’s actions had an extreme negative effect on lawyers in Huntingdon County and now those real professionals are left dealing with the fallout of her lies

“I think we are still happy to see this closure but I still think we will be dealing with it for a long time,” Jackson said.

Kitchen is scheduled to self-surrender to sheriff’s deputies Wednesday.

(Published by WJAC - July 19, 2016)

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