An Alameda County judge charged with stealing thousands of dollars from his Berkeley neighbor, selling her art, and using her garage to store his Thunderbird has resigned and agreed to never be a judge again.
Kathleen Ewins wrote in an email to NBC Bay Area on Thursday that her client, former Judge Paul Seeman, had resigned. He had a "distinguished career," she wrote and "he felt this was an appropriate action to take at this time for the good of the court."
Seeman resigned in exchange for the Commission on Judicial Performance halting its investigation into him, according to the Oakland Tribune. The newspaper reported that he had remained on the bench - and continued to receive a paycheck - while his criminal case proceeded, though he had not appeared in court since his arrest.
Seeman was charged in June 2012 with one count of elder theft and 11 counts of perjury, all felonies, as well as enhancements alleging that he stole at least $200,000. This month, the Tribune reported that the District Attorney amended its complaint, charging Seeman with 20 additional crimes, for a total of 32 counts in all.
After a two-year investigation, Berkeley police said Seeman, who has overseen several Occupy Cal protester cases, started off as a neighbor who tried to help Anne Nutting and her frail husband, who were forced to leave their home.
Court records state that Seeman obtained power-of-attorney for the couple in 1999 after stating that he had found $1 million worth of stock certificates and uncashed dividend checks in their house.
After Lee Nutting died in December 1999, Seeman arranged the sale of two properties the couple owned in Santa Cruz, investigators said. They said Seeman handled Lee Nutting's estate in probate court but did not include the two Santa Cruz properties in the documents.
Seeman kept taking more control, authorities said.
By August 2004, Seeman "had taken over almost all of the victim's financial affairs, putting his name on her bank accounts as joint tenant and on her investment accounts as TOD (transferee on death)," police wrote in the document. At the time, there was more than $2.2 million in the accounts, authorities said.
Seeman eventually sold off Anne Nutting's assets, court papers state.
In 2010, a year after Seeman became a judge, the Nutting's attorney contacted police to report the suspected embezzlement. After police contacted him, Seeman repaid the $250,000 loan but refused to provide an accounting of his transactions, authorities said.
Prosecutors charged him with perjury for allegedly failing to disclose the loan on annual statements of economic interest that all judges must file. They said he also failed to report investments totaling more than $1.4 million in 40 local properties - investments made between 2003 and 2009.