DA Vance: Former Paralegal Charged With Forging the Signatures of 76 State Supreme Court Justices

September 16, 2015

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of THOMAS RUBINO, 42, for forging the signatures of 76 New York State Supreme Court Justices while he was employed as a paralegal for Paris & Chaikin, P.L.L.C. (“Paris & Chaikin”), a personal injury law firm. RUBINO is charged in an indictment in New York State Supreme Court with Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, both in the Second Degree.[1] 

“The structured settlement process is regulated in New York for a very important reason – to protect the best interests of the individuals receiving settlements,” said District Attorney Vance. “When Thomas Rubino allegedly forged signatures on 117 judicial orders, he caused financial harm to the companies that relied on the legitimacy of the process, deprived the individuals of their right to protection, and undermined the authority of State Supreme Court Justices.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, from July 2010 to October 2013, RUBINO was employed as a paralegal for Paris & Chaikin a law firm located on West 34th Street in Manhattan. Paris & Chaikin represents structured settlement companies in the purchasing of structured settlement rights – money owed to an individual from an insurance claim settlement, such as a personal injury matter, generally paid in installments over the course of several years. Structured settlement companies purchase an individual’s settlement rights in return for a lump sum payment. This practice is regulated in New York State and each transaction requires the approval of a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court to ensure that each transfer is in the best interest of the individual.

Beginning in December 2010, RUBINO served as the law firm’s primary employee handling structured settlement acquisitions. In this role, the clients would email him directly with a transaction that required approval. RUBINO was supposed to draft the required court documents and file them in the court in the appropriate county in New York State.  

Between approximately late June 2011 and October 2013, RUBINO forged the signature of 76 justices on 117 documents that purported to be judicial orders approving the transfer of structured settlements. The defendant used a pair of scissors to cut a judge’s signature from a legitimate document, and then taped that signature onto the fake order that he created. After RUBINO transmitted the forged judicial orders to the clients, the clients released the funds to the individuals and sold the annuities to third parties.  

In late 2013, the legitimacy of at least two transfers processed by RUBINO was called into question. Fearing detection, the defendant told the law firm that he had a family emergency and needed to leave immediately. He never returned.  

Assistant District Attorneys Lauren Littman and Jaime Hickey-Mendoza are handling the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gloria Garcia, Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Archana Rao, Principal Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Michael Sachs, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Assistant District Attorney Katarina Braafladt, Director of the High Tech Analysis Unit Steven Moran, Senior Rackets Investigator David Moser, Paralegal Oliver Van Zant, Analyst Brandy Lombardi, and former Intern Katharine Friel provided additional assistance with the investigation.

District Attorney Vance thanked Investigator Cosmas Grant, of the New York State Courts, Office of the Inspector General and Sean Ralph, of the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance with the investigation.

Defendant Information:

Thomas Rubino, D.O.B 11/5/1972
New York, NY

•    Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 117 counts
•    Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 117 counts

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.