A lawyer, who did not tell his clients that he has been disbarred from practicing and committed fraud on them by forging court documents, has been jailed for criminal contempt.
Earlier this week Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters ordered Elliott Vogt held without bond in Muscogee County Jail for forging court documents and misleading his clients by not informing them that his license to practice was suspended in both states.
Vogt, a 2003 graduate of the University of Alabama law school, was suspended from the Alabama Bar in February and disbarred in July by the state supreme court. In January, his Georgia license was suspended.
Vogt admitted on Nov. 22 that he had forged legal documents, including court orders, signatures and legal seals and misled clients by claiming to have a law partner at his office in Phenix City, Alabama. Vogt even went to the extent of setting up a phony telephone number and email address for that 'partner.'
At least five people, claiming to be Vogt's clients, said he has misled them about the status of their cases, which included a divorce and two child visitation matters.
Vogt's fraud was exposed by Columbus attorney Brian Ramey, who Vogt said was his 'partner.'
Ramey said he had received a call from a woman on Oct. 29 who wanted to know whether he was representing her on a child visitation matter. Ramey said he didn't know her and when he found from the woman that Vogt had used his name as his 'partner' and had collected money in his name, he was furious.
Ramey recalled that he called up the phone number the woman gave him but it was an answering machine and it said, 'Brian Ramey was unavailable.'
Ramey said he didn't hesitate to call the police.
Vogt was arrested the next day after the same woman took some documents to show to Peters. The documents bore six forged signatures, including those of Peters, Ramey and Court Clerk Linda Pierce.
You are an officer of the court and it is my responsibility to protect the integrity of the court, Peters told Vogt while ordering his detainment. There is no telling how many people that hired you believe they are now divorced or their case was filed and completed when in fact it was not.
Columbus attorney Neal Callahan, who is representing Vogt, said his client was remorseful and is cooperating with Judge Peters so he can identify every client and every matter he was involved in since he lost his license.
He is also working hard to make restitution to all clients, Callahan said.
Nobody intelligent enough to graduate from college, law school and pass two state bar exams could ever have expected to get away with what he was doing. In my opinion, he was just buying time to spend with his wife and 3-year-old before he had to admit to them he had failed, he added.