OAKLAND -- A former Alameda County Superior Court judge was sentenced to five years probation Monday for stealing money from an elderly widowed neighbor who trusted him with her life savings.
Paul David Seeman, 58, of Berkeley, was sentenced as part of a plea deal in which he was found guilty of one count of financial elder abuse and one count of perjury. Seeman was accused of stealing from his now-deceased widowed neighbor, Anne Nutting, who was 97 when she noticed irregularities in her finances.
Investigators originally believed Seeman stole more than $1 million from Nutting, a figure that also included the estimated value of possessions Seeman sold on behalf of Nutting when he controlled her estate.
As a result, he was charged with 32 felonies, including financial elder abuse for stealing from Nutting and numerous counts of perjury for lying on state financial disclosure forms that all judges are required to complete.
But court documents revealed that, in the end, investigators could only prove that Seeman stole more than $5,000 from his neighbor.
A $250,000 "loan" Seeman claimed he took from Nutting was paid back just after police called Seeman asking questions about Nutting's finances. And investigators could not prove that Seeman took the money earned from the sale of Nutting's valuable possessions, court documents show.
"Given the entirety of the case, this was the appropriate resolution," said deputy district attorney Jason Sjoberg. "He did commit a criminal act, and he has been held accountable for it."
While Seeman avoids jail time under the deal, his career in law, at least in California, is over. As part of the plea deal, Seeman loses his bar license and his right to practice law in the state. Earlier this year, Seeman agreed never to be a judge again.
Seeman also was forced to pay Nutting's estate the $5,600 that he stole. The former judge also cannot live with, care for, or act as a financial aide to any elderly person who is not a direct relative. In addition, he is not allowed to possess any "financial instrument" in any person's name but his own.
Laurel Headley, Seeman's criminal defense attorney, said in a prepared statement that her client has paid the price and agreed to a deal to end the case.
"He appreciates that the sentence took into account the many good works he has accomplished in his life," Headley said.
Seeman, who appeared in court, turned down a request to make a comment.
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