Former local attorney pleads guilty to identity fraud, forgery

ariquelmy@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 17, 2012 

A former local attorney accused of forging legal papers and stealing another lawyer's identity pleaded guilty Wednesday to the accusations in Muscogee County Superior Court, authorities said.

Elliott J. Vogt, 34, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft by conversion, two counts of first-degree forgery and one count of identity fraud. Judge John Allen sentenced Vogt to a year in the Muscogee County Prison, followed by nine years' probation, Assistant District Attorney Doug Breault said.

"He had people pay him fees to do domestic relations work, and he didn't do any of the work," Breault said. "It caused great suffering to the parties involved. He also pretended to be a lawyer."

Vogt has paid some $25,000 in restitution in the Muscogee County case, Breault said. Vogt also was ordered to pay an additional $15,000 to a victim who incurred attorney's fees because of his actions.

Neal Callahan, Vogt's defense attorney, said prosecutors wanted five years in prison for his client.

Callahan disagreed with any prison time, noting that Vogt has spent the last two years making pizza to earn money.

"A prison sentence would have just been piling onto a ruined life," Callahan said.

A graduate of The University of Alabama School of Law, Vogt has been disbarred in both Georgia and Alabama.

The Georgia Supreme Court cited a 2009 case in which Vogt "invented hearing dates," and provided a forged order to a client in a legitimation case involving custody.

Callahan said his client left law school without a mentor or knowledge of how to practice law.

"Things might have been quite different," he said.

Vogt faces similar charges in Russell County.

In those cases, he's accused of forging the signature of a probate judge on an order for an estate.

Facing charges of theft and forgery, Vogt intends on pleading guilty in those cases, Callahan said.

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