69ºF

Florida State Attorney's Office: Man posed as attorney, stole money

The Florida State Attorney's Office said Ralph Martin, 40, posed as an attorney and stole thousands of dollars from client settlement checks.

Martin was arrested on Tuesday on 44 counts related to stealing the money.

In court documents, several victim's allege Martin was a paralegal for attorney David Osborne. The Florida State Bar Associated filed to have Osborne's license removed in June, 2014.

Investigators allege Martin would receive client settlement checks, mostly personal injury cases, and would only give his client a portion of the check. In some cases, clients received none of the money.

Carmen Vallone said that he contacted Martin after a car accident in January 2013. Vallone said as the months went by, Martin became hard to get a hold of.

"Then I call him, 'Oh I'm in Jamaica. I can't talk right now.' Ok well call me when you get back into town. A month later, 'Hey where are you? Oh I had a family member die I'm back in Jamaica,'" said Vallone.

Eventually Vallone said that he was contacted by detectives who told him that Martin wasn't only stealing from him, but also several others in central Florida.

Vallone said that investigators showed him the check Martin had taken.

"He showed me a copy of my check, from Geico, with my name forged on it it. I look at the check the date it was issued, the accident was Jan. 7, the check was issued Jan. 21," said Vallone.

Vallone said that he had to file a complaint with the Florida Bar Association, which eventually refunded him the $9,000 he had never received.

During his first appearance, a judge held Martin on a $68,000 bond.


About the Author: