The son of a prominent criminal defense attorney was indicted yesterday on two misdemeanor counts of unauthorized practice of law and three felonies of offering a false instrument for filing (See Indictment).
The defendant, Terence Kindlon Jr., 42, passed the bar exam last year but was not admitted. He has a history of mental illness and had been accepted into the Manhattan Mental Health Court.
Kindlon is the son of Terence L. Kindlon, a high-profile criminal defense attorney in the capital region and a founding partner at Kindlon Shanks & Associates.
Kindlon Jr., who lives on Staten Island, was accused by a Manhattan grand jury of presenting himself as an attorney on behalf of a defendant in a criminal mischief case, filing a fraudulent document claiming he could not attend a proceeding in Manhattan because he had a civil case on Staten Island, and falsifying a document stating that he had attended a mandatory meeting.
Records show that Kindlon, who had been arrested in May for stealing a bicycle but also had pending attempted grand larceny and bail jumping charges, was referred to the Manhattan Mental Health Court because of his documented illness. However, the indictment contends that he falsified a record, claiming he had attended a mandatory counseling program.
According to an indictment and statements made during yesterday’s arraignment, Kindlon in June filed a notice of appearance to represent a defendant charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and then appeared for the individual on two subsequent occasions. Officials said Kindlon was charging $150 per day for his legal services, far below standard hourly rates.
Kindlon’s fraud was uncovered when another lawyer, J. David O’Brien, received a notice of appearance where he was listed as the attorney along with Kindlon, whose signature was on the document. O’Brien had never heard of Kindlon. Kindlon appeared at an arraignment representing the defendant named in that case, Assistant District Attorney Daniel Cort said yesterday.
The indictment alleges that Kindlon “held himself out to be an attorney and counselor-at-law” without ever having been admitted.
Unauthorized practice is currently a Class A misdemeanor. A bill signed last month by Governor Andrew Cuomo will boost the offense to a Class E felony effective Nov. 1 (NYLJ, Dec. 13, 2012) in cases where the false representation results in a loss of $1,000 or more to the victims.
Acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers (See Profile) set bail at $300,000 bond or $150,000 cash. It was unclear last night if Kindlon had made bail.
Bronx defense attorney Stacey Richman, who represented Kindlon at the arraignment, said her client’s mental health had rapidly deteriorated recently.
Richman said Kindlon passed the bar exam last year and was working toward admission. She said the defendant is extraordinarily intelligent and, when he is well, is a “stellar” individual.
“He was in the midst of going through Mental Health Court because of matters pending in New York County, which were a result of his organic illness,” Richman said. “This entire matter should be addressed in the context of the Mental Health Court as it highlights the issues we have with people who are organically ill.”
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement that, “Simply put, it is a crime to practice law without a license. The rules governing lawyers exist to protect those in need of competent representation before our courts. This defendant was an imposter who abused the trust of his purported clients for his own financial gain.”
The elder Kindlon declined to discuss the matter.