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Attorney faces jail for faking judges’ signatures

An Oak Harbor attorney who forged judges’ signatures pleaded guilty to three counts of felony forgery at his arraignment hearing last week.

Dean Adams will face a standard sentencing range of two to five months in jail at his sentencing hearing scheduled for May 8.

Adams said “he wanted to take care of everything and do the right thing,” according to Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks. Adams represented himself in court. He did not return a call for comment.

Adams resigned from his contract with the city of Oak Harbor to provide public defense services for people who can’t afford to hire an attorney. He represented people charged with misdemeanors and gross misdemeanor crimes.

Oak Harbor Interim City Supervisor Cathy Rosen said four local attorneys have stepped in to pick up Adams’ caseload of about 50 open cases.

Washington State Bar Association spokesperson Alfredo Tryferis said a felony conviction is grounds for disbarment, though there’s a lengthy disbarment process. The state Supreme Court will make the ultimate decision.

Sgt. Jerry Baker with the Oak Harbor Police said Adams forged judges’ signatures in a divorce and two adoption cases. He said there may be a fourth case.

Baker said he’s never investigated a similar crime before.

“It’s very strange,” he said. “I’m not sure what motive there was. Possibly to keep from being embarrassed that he did not get the job done.”

According to Baker’s report, Adams created a false decree of adoption, forged Judge Vickie Churchill’s signature and sent it to a client.

Baker wrote that employees in the Island County Court Administrator’s Office discovered the forgery after Adams’ client tried to get a copy of the paperwork.

Adams wrote a letter to the court manager admitting that he had misled his client and “made up the decree of adoption.”

In addition, Baker wrote that Adams forged Judge Alan Hancock’s signature on a marriage dissolution decree, which was never filed with the court.

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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