SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced on Monday, November 15 that Russell A. Robinson, a now-disbarred San Francisco-based attorney was charged with multiple felony counts for defrauding a client, two courts, and two insurance companies— all while illegally practicing law after he was suspended from doing so.

“Our legal system depends on lawyers to be truthful and act with integrity,” said Boudin.  “Breaching that trust hurts not only the individuals who have been defrauded, but damages the confidence the public places in the legal system. Those who practice law are not above it.”

The SFDA’s Office reported that public documents noted Robinson was placed on involuntary inactive status by the California State Bar in June 2019, and was not authorized to practice law after that time. According to witnesses and records obtained, he continued to practice as an attorney.  He is alleged to have made false statements to induce a client to retain his services and filed a lawsuit on the client’s behalf in a California Superior Court. As a part of that lawsuit, Robinson filed with the Court numerous false documents bearing the forged signatures of a licensed attorney and a legal assistant.

Records show he impersonated his client, the licensed attorney, and others in his communications with two different insurance companies, and is alleged to have forged his client’s signature on documents he submitted to those insurance companies. These fraudulent communications and documents resulted in the insurance companies providing approximately $265,000 in settlement proceeds to Robinson for his client, most of which he allegedly embezzled.

In addition, other records indicate that Robinson forged the signature of a legal assistant on 12 documents he filed with the Review Department of the State Bar Court, which recommended that he be disbarred. The California Supreme Court accepted that recommendation and disbarred Robinson in June 2021.

Robinson has been charged with Unauthorized Practice of Law in violation of Business and Professions Code section 6126(b); False Personation in violation of Penal Code section 529(a)(2); Identity Theft in violation of Penal Code section 530.5; Embezzlement in violation of Penal Code section 503; and Forgery in violation of Penal Code sections 470(a) and 470(c); and Filing a False Instrument in violation of Penal Code section 115(a).

This case was investigated by SFDA Inspector Jonathan Collum, who was assisted by the State Bar of California, Office of Chief Trial Counsel. The SFDA’s investigation into Robinson’s conduct remains ongoing.