ST. LOUIS — A lawyer from St. Louis faked legal documents in court cases in St. Louis and St. Louis and St. Charles counties for more than a year, a federal indictment and disciplinary documents say.
Among the documents falsified by Andrew Gavin Wynne were forged signatures of judges, the documents said.
Wynne’s law license was suspended in October. He was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on five counts of identity theft for incidents between Feb. 7, 2020, and June 7, 2021.
The indictment says Wynne created fictitious documents including “court orders, judgments, and emails purportedly authored by the judges.”
Wynne declined to comment when reached by phone Saturday. Wynne said he was looking for a lawyer.
Court documents filed in October by Missouri’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates lawyer misconduct, provide additional details about the allegations, including at least two additional cases beyond those listed in the indictment.
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The 98-page filing, including exhibits that contain copies of the faked documents, lays out a series of divorce and other family court cases in which Wynne is accused of faking court orders and emails from judges and providing them to clients.
One faked filing dated Feb. 25, 2020, is a final order of divorce in a St. Charles County case in which the husband was ordered to pay $900 in child support, according to a copy in the disciplinary filing.
Unbeknownst to the wife, who was represented by Wynne, the case continued working its way through the court system.
But when neither spouse showed up for a July 12, 2021, hearing, the judge dismissed the case. That dismissal was set aside after lawyers with Wynne’s former firm intervened, court records show.
In a case in St. Louis Circuit Court, Wynne faked an order granting a motion for contempt that said the husband would have to pay $20,000 within 15 days, then half his income plus $2,500 every month, the filing says. He followed that up with two faked emails from the judge explaining delays, one saying her staff had COVID and the other saying her father died, the filing says.
A court spokesman on Monday said the judge’s father did not die.
It’s not clear how Wynne thought the scheme alleged would succeed, as the documents would potentially conflict with other, real court orders and would be subjected to scrutiny from his clients, their former spouse and the spouse’s lawyer.
The orders did not appear in the public case file.
At the time, Wynne was an associate with the Kirkwood firm Menees, Menees & Wynne, now known as Menees & Menees.
Hardy Menees called Wynne’s behavior “inexplicable” and his motives “perplexing” in a telephone interview Saturday. He said Wynne primarily faked rulings on motions in the middle of the cases he was handling. There were only two final dispositions of cases, Menees said.
“It’s been an incredible ordeal to try and unravel it, but we have unraveled it,” he said.
Menees praised the investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors and said lawyers and judges have “reached out incredibly to my small law firm about this.”
Menees on Monday said cases in four judicial circuits had been affected but declined to say how many total cases were involved.
Wynne’s web of deceptions began to unravel July 1, when a client in a divorce case approached Menees with concerns about a consent order that had been filed in her case that she never signed, according to an affidavit filed by Menees in the disciplinary case.
Menees told Wynne that they would need to talk about the case the next day, prompting Wynne to spend three hours sending emails and attachments to a secret email address and then deleting them from his office computer, the affidavit says.
At a July 12 meeting, Menees and the firm’s private investigator found client files on a thumb drive in Wynne’s possession, including multiple faked documents, the affidavit says.
They also found a half-pint of vodka in his backpack, along with an unmarked pill bottle containing “miscellaneous” pills, the affidavit says. Wynne agreed to go to a drug and alcohol treatment facility.
Menees and his investigator found additional faked documents, and reported Wynne to the disciplinary counsel on July 15, the affidavit says.
It was the first of four reports on Wynne’s conduct, including one sent from the Missouri Attorney General’s consumer protection division after a Wynne client complained to them.
The OCDC filed its documents Oct. 13, 2021.
Wynne was suspended 14 days layer by the Missouri Supreme Court in an order that says he “poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public as there is probable cause to believe (he) has engaged in acts of misconduct.”
Two of the judges listed in the indictment responded to emails about the case, declining to comment and referring a reporter to a court spokesman, who referred specific questions to federal prosecutors.
“We have full confidence in the security measures put in place by the Office of the State Courts Administrator to protect the integrity of documents for the Circuit Court in St. Louis County,” court spokesman John O’Sullivan said in an email Monday.
Wynne was licensed to practice law in Missouri in 2013 and was hired by Menees’ firm in 2016. His LinkedIn profile says he graduated from St. Louis University in 2010 and law school at Western Michigan University in 2013.
Wynne worked in corporate legal affairs department of a health care company and a Jefferson City law firm after graduation, the profile says.