If a Connecticut Lawyer thinks this is okay ...?
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Vernon (Connecticut) Attorney Charged With Using Dead Aunt's ATM Card
By AVIV BLASBALG The Hartford Courant
10:51 p.m. EDT, August 26, 2009
NEW BRITAIN — - A Vernon attorney has been released on a promise to appear following her arrest on charges that she used her dead aunt's ATM card and bank account.
Heather Kaufmann, 33, surrendered to police Monday and is facing charges of second-degree forgery, third-degree larceny, third-degree identity theft, credit card theft, receiving goods illegally, charging less than $500 on a revoked credit card and five counts of fraudulent use of an ATM. She is scheduled to appear at Superior Court in New Britain on Sept. 9.
According to court documents, police said that in the days following the death of her aunt on Dec. 7, 2008, Kaufmann used her aunt's ATM card and wrote a check on the account that, together, came to more than $3,200.
Kaufmann is charged with using the ATM card five times to make withdrawals at a Rockville bank. She also is accused of using the card at stores such as Kmart, Target and a New York City Toys "R" Us.
The affidavit also says that Kaufmann wrote a check from the account of more than $1,000 to her boyfriend, UConn Law Professor Robert L. Birmingham, and signed the check with her aunt's name.
Police said they were notified in January by a relative who was assigned by a Berlin probate court to handle the estate that more than $3,000 was missing from the account.
According to court documents, Kaufmann, who described her relationship with her aunt as similar to that of a mother and daughter, initially told police that her aunt allowed her to use the account to make purchases for her, but she denied using the account after the aunt had died.
She did not have power of attorney over her aunt's estate and did not file any paperwork with the probate court.
Police said that after being confronted with a videotape of the ATM withdrawals, Kaufmann said she used the money she withdrew from the ATM to pay for expenses related to the funeral and issued the check to Birmingham to reimburse him for a $2,000 check he had written to a New Britain funeral home as a deposit for her aunt's funeral services. The funeral home is still owed another $8,000.
Kaufmann also told police that the store purchases were for presents for family members that the aunt would have wanted them to have. Kaufmann pointed out that she used her own funds to pay for the trip to New York, where the Toys "R" Us purchase was made.
Kaufmann served as Birmingham's attorney in October 2007 when the professor agreed to take a leave of absence after showing a clip from the R-rated film "Really, Really Pimpin' in Da South" in his legal remedies class.
The film featured an interview with a convicted pimp, but when Birmingham pressed the pause button as the interview ended, the film had switched over to a scene of a thong-clad woman dancing suggestively, which created a buzz on the campus but did not result in any formal student complaints.
Birmingham returned the following semester, but his usual course on feminist legal theory was dropped.
Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant
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