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A Pennsylvania woman has been charged with fraud and unauthorized practice of the law after she made partner at her law firm even though she'd faked her law degree and never passed the bar, according to state prosecutors and court records.
Kimberly M. Kitchen, 45, of James Creek, about 90 miles east of Pittsburgh, represented numerous clients and more than 30 estates in Huntingdon County for BMZ Law of Huntingdon. According to her resumé, she graduated summa cum laude from Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh and had taught trust and taxation law at the Columbia University School of Law.
But the state attorney general's office and a criminal complaint say none of her credentials hold up. Kitchen allegedly forged numerous documents attesting that she was a licensed attorney, including an attorney's license for 2014, supposed bar examination results, supposed records of her law school attendance and a check purporting to show she'd paid her registration fees.
Duquesne University told NBC station WJAC of Johnstown in December, when the state investigation began, that it had no record of Kitchen's having attended. The state attorney's registration office shows no listing for her.
The discrepancies were uncovered beginning when BMZ promoted her to partner in April 2014. The county district attorney referred the case to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, and Kitchen suspended her practice in December pending the investigation.
According to documents on file in Huntingdon County Magisterial Court, Kitchen was charged with misdemeanor counts of fraud and unauthorized practice of the law. The state attorney general's office said she was also being charged with felony tampering with public records. No date for a preliminary hearing has been set.
"There are things about the charges we don't agree with, so we're going to be fighting some of the charges," Kitchen's attorney, Caroline Roberto, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
BMZ, the law firm, didn't reply to a request for comment.