A Queens man pretended to be a lawyer specializing in wrongful convictions to steal as much as $15,000 a pop from inmates hoping to get exonerated, Brooklyn prosecutors said Tuesday.
Kenneth Moore, 53, was charged in a 75-count indictment with swindling 18 people who believed he was filing post-conviction motions to set aside their verdicts, according to the Brooklyn DA’s Office.
Moore allegedly ran his sham Waymore Post-Conviction LLC out of a Bushwick apartment, charging between $5,000 and $15,000 for his bogus legal services between 2012 and 2016. He is not a registered attorney.
He is accused of targeting inmates serving lengthy sentences, including up to life in prison for murder, manslaughter and other serious crimes, at prisons in New York, North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia and elsewhere.
He would attract the desperate defendants by sending them certified letters offering help, authorities said.
The inmate’s family would then sign a contract with Moore, who required 80 percent of his fee to be paid before supposedly filing the motions. He charged, on average, $10,000 per case, prosecutors said.
The alleged con artist from Glendale filed motions in just two of the cases – using an actual attorney’s forged signature to do so, officials said.
In some instances, Moore duped families into paying even more by telling them he had to hire an expert witness for the case but pocketing the funds for himself, prosecutors said.
In one case, Moore allegedly convinced an inmate and his family to hire him — over an out-of-state Innocence Project organization.
Moore would stay in touch with his “clients” and their relatives until the payments were made, prosecutors said. When families requested an update in the case, he would stop returning their calls, sometimes changing his phone number, they said.
Moore was held on $300,000 bail at his arraignment Tuesday on grand larceny, scheme to defraud and other charges in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He faces up to seven years in prison, if convicted.
It wasn’t immediately clear who Moore’s lawyer was.
“This case is especially reprehensible to me because in Brooklyn we have a robust Conviction Review Unit that takes wrongful conviction claims seriously,” said Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez in a statement. “This defendant allegedly took advantage of that exemplary work by targeting vulnerable victims and exploiting the hope of inmates and their families that they might be released from custody. He has now been exposed as an alleged con man and I urge anyone else who believes they have been victimized by him to contact my office.”