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March 27, 2016

Pa. woman convicted for decade of work as unlicensed attorney

Kimberly Kitchen, 45, forged multiple documents in order to gain employment at a Huntingdon County law firm

A Pennsylvania woman who spent a decade practicing as an attorney with a Huntingdon County firm was convicted last week of forging her professional accreditation.

According to prosecutors, 45-year-old Kimberly Kitchen forged her law license, bar exam results and an e-mail claiming she graduated from Duquesne University law school, the Orange County Register reports. She also provided a copy of a false check for a state attorney registration fee.

Kitchen used these documents to gain employment at BMZ Law, where she became a partner and managed real estate planning for 30 clients despite lacking any professional training to do so. At one point, she even served as president of Hunterdon County's bar association.

Because of Kitchen's role in the Huntingdon County courthouse, the case was handled by the state attorney general's office and was assigned to a judge from another county. BMZ officials provided testimony at her two-day trial, but the firm has not publicly commented on the case since an investigation began late in 2014. At that point, Kitchen left the firm.

“Sadly, it would appear that our firm was the last, in a long line of professionals, to have been deceived by Ms. Kitchen into believing she was licensed to practice law,” a BMZ spokesperson previously told the Huntingdon Daily News. “We are undertaking a thorough review of each and every file she may have handled.”

Prosecutors say Kitchen, a resident of James Creek in Central Pennsylvania, worked as a fundraiser for Juniata College before she began to tell people she was an attorney. Her defense attorney said she was considering an appeal and there was no evidence that she performed substandard work.

Caseworkers were given 90 days to file a presentence report before a judge schedules sentencing.