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Attorney charged with forgery, perjury, theft

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) arrested a Stockbridge lawyer, for allegedly forging a judge's signature, and lying under oath.

Attorney Lynn Swank is charged with four counts of forgery in the first degree, two counts of perjury, and one count of theft by deception. She was being held Tuesday in the Fulton County Jail, according to GBI Spokesman John Bankhead.

Swank was arrested at 9:50 a.m., Tuesday at her office on Burke Street in Stockbridge, Bankhead said. A web site for the lawyer states that her specialties include adoption, surrogacy, family law and estate planning.

According to Bankhead, Swank received payment from the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, for services she did not provide, and lied in court about her actions.

"Evidence showed that her testimony under oath was not true," Bankhead said.

Bankhead issued a written statement about the case Tuesday. He said that Swank's arrest followed an investigation which was requested by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan.

"Judge Tusan requested the GBI investigation in January, after discovering that her signature was forged on four separate orders terminating parental claims," the release states. "The orders were subsequently filed in the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk's Office. The attorney who presented these orders was Lynn Swank, on behalf of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta."

The Catholic Charities, Bankhead continued, sent the first of four adoption cases to Swank in February of 2009. Swank was hired to obtain an order terminating parental rights in those cases, he states.

"The investigation discovered that Swank was paid in March of 2009 by the Catholic Charities, for legal services she did not perform, by failing to make the required publication in the Fulton County Daily Report, the legal organ of Fulton County and by failing to file legal documents with the court," the release adds. "Swank told the Catholic Charities she had done the required legal work, and had a hearing scheduled before a judge on these matters, but this was not the case."

The Catholic Charities, in August of 2009, reportedly "expressed concern" to Swank about her work on the cases, and terminated her legal representation in September of 2009, according to the statement.

"The investigation revealed that Swank later filed four forged orders in the ... cases with the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk's Office," Bankhead states. "A copy of each of the orders was subsequently provided to Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities reviewed the orders and noted that the listed mother on one of the cases was incorrect, and a corrected order needed to be obtained."

Catholic Charities, according to the GBI, took the order to Judge Tusan's office, and requested a corrected order.

"Judge Tusan's staff attorney immediately noticed that Judge Tusan's signature had been forged," the release continues. "Copies of the other three orders were subsequently obtained and determined to be forgeries."

The judge reportedly held a hearing, and questioned Swank about the alleged forgeries. The release states the attorney testified that her former husband had taken the orders to the courthouse for her, and "must be the one responsible for obtaining the forged signatures."

"The investigation determined that the former husband was out of state, during the time the orders were taken to the courthouse," the release continues. "Swank also testified under oath that she had completed a publication with regard to one of the cases, which the investigation determined was not true," the release states.

An attorney in Judge Tusan's office could not be reached Tuesday, nor could a representative from the Catholic Charities organization.