Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lawyer Pleads No Contest in Play for Pay Scheme With Female Divorce Clients

Assortment of Clients

Aug 17, 2009
By Martha Neil

A California divorce lawyer has pleaded no contest to four felony counts of sexual battery and one felony count of attempted sexual contact.

The plea deal is expected to result in a prison sentence of no more than 18 months followed by five years of probation for attorney Gary Michael Appelblatt, 58. Had he been convicted of the 13 counts concerning five different alleged victims that he initially faced, a far longer sentence would have been likely, reports the Sacto 9-1-1 blog of the Sacramento Bee.

Appelblatt was accused in court testimony of improperly touching matrimonial clients under the guise of performing medical procedures, the newspaper recounts. He reportedly claimed to have a pharmacy degree.

The case was brought under a state criminal statute that addresses sexual battery conducted under the guise of a "professional purpose." However, Appelblatt's lawyer argued that the alleged victims knew they weren't seeing a medical professional and some still continued to allow him to represent them to the conclusion of their cases, according to a 2008 Sacramento Bee article about the case.

In one instance, the lawyer allegedly offered a client a $5,000 discount on her legal fees to have sex with him, then offered to cut the bill even more if she could persuade a friend to join them, according to a motion to dismiss filed by his lawyer, Tom Johnson. The motion says the client hung up the telephone on Appelblatt, who then stopped billing her altogether.

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