New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen today announced the arrest and arraignment of Andrew Schnorr, 39, for practicing law without a license and defrauding New Yorkers in Buffalo out of more than $22,000 in legal fees. Despite never graduating from a law school nor passing a bar exam, Schnorr allegedly posed as a licensed attorney and even represented clients at numerous legal proceedings. Schnorr was charged with Unauthorized Practice of Law (a Class E felony) and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class D felony). If convicted, he faces up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison.
“Practicing law without a license undermines the integrity of our judicial system and jeopardizes the fate of New Yorkers who need legal services,” said Attorney General James. “This individual tricked vulnerable people by posing as an attorney who could help them, but instead cheated them out of tens of thousands of dollars while risking their future. New Yorkers must be able to trust that the professionals representing them are qualified and serving in their best interest.”
“This suspect lied about his credentials and as a result stole thousands from unsuspecting victims who were counting on him for legal advice based on education and training that he didn’t have,” said State Police Superintendent Bruen. “I commend our members and the Office of the Attorney General for their work to hold this suspect accountable for his actions.”
Today’s charges are the result of a joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and the New York State Police. The investigation began in the summer of 2019 when OAG received a complaint from an attorney concerning Schnorr’s lack of competence during a legal proceeding. As outlined in today’s complaint, the investigation revealed that Schnorr was in fact, not a licensed attorney, and that he had lied about graduating from New York University School of Law and lied about passing the bar exams in New York and California.
Schnorr secured his job at a Buffalo law firm by submitting a resume with fake credentials. He worked as an associate attorney at the firm and was tasked with civil matters involving depositions and settlement conferences. Altogether, he represented at least nine clients at the law firm beginning in 2019.
The OAG’s investigation remains ongoing. Any New Yorker who believes that they have been a victim of this type of crime or have additional information regarding this matter are encouraged to contact OAG at (716) 853-8400.
By law, attorneys must be licensed in New York state by the New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration (OCA). If possible, before meeting or retaining an attorney, individuals should confirm the person’s license on OCA’s website. For legal representation outside of New York state, individuals should contact the respective state’s licensing authority to confirm whether a person is licensed to practice law in that jurisdiction.
Today’s charges against Schnorr are allegations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The OAG investigation was conducted by Detective Scott Barnes, under the supervision of Supervising Detective Richard Doyle and Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes. The OAG case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Liam A. Dwyer, with the assistance of Senior Analyst Robert Vanwey and Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. Both the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and the Investigations Bureau are part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.
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