OAKLAND — An Alameda County Superior Court Judge was arrested and charged Thursday for stealing at least $1.6 million from a 97-year-old neighbor over the course of 13 years.
Judge Paul David Seeman, who was appointed to the bench in 2009 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is also charged with 11 felony counts of perjury for lying about his income on state-required Statement of Economic Interest Forms.
The arrest came after an eight-month-long investigation by the Berkeley Police Department and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office which found, among other things, that Seeman illegally gained control of Anne Nutting’s finances and property and slowly funneled the assets to himself, court records state.
“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 (trasferee (sic) on death),” a probable cause arrest warrant states. “At this time there was in excess of $2,200,000 in the accounts.”
Seeman is accused of slowly stealing the assets from 1999 through April 2010 when Nutting died. Nutting had no family when she died.
“The alleged conduct of Judge Seeman is disturbing and disappointing,” said Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. “His alleged conduct is, in no way, a reflection of the outstanding caliber of judicial officers serving Alameda County.”
Seeman began stealing from Nutting in 1999 after she and her husband were banned from living in their Santa Barbara Road home in Berkeley because it was found uninhabitable, court documents state. The couple were hoarders, a probable cause warrant states, and were forced from their home after the Berkeley Fire Department deemed it unfit during a visit to treat Lee Nutting, 89, for a fall.
At the time, Seeman was an attorney focusing on juvenile law who lived across the street from the couple, court documents state. He offered to help them with their legal troubles and is now accused of stealing their money.
Less than a month after Seeman offered to help, he won a “durable-power-of-attorney” over the Nuttings “claiming he found $1 million worth of stock certificates and uncashed dividend checks in their house,” court records state.
It remained unclear Thursday if Seeman’s claim was truthful.
About a year later, Lee Nutting died and Seeman is alleged to have begun a systematic campaign to steal all of Anne Nutting’s assets.
That campaign continued even as Seeman moved through the Alameda County justice system, first being appointed as a court commissioner and then being appointed to a seat on the bench.
At the time of his arrest, Seeman was presiding over misdemeanor arraignments at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse. He ruled earlier this year upholding a stay-away order against four Occupy Cal protesters.
Berkeley Police began investigating Seeman after Nutting hired an attorney in an effort to prevent Seeman from taking control of her home. That attorney, who is unnamed in court documents, began investigating Seeman’s actions as power of attorney and quickly notified Berkeley police that he suspected a felony.
Seeman is currently in Santa Rita Jail with a $525,000 bail.
Alameda County judge charged with stealing from 97-year-old neighbor
Paul T. Rosynsky/Oakland Tribune
June 15, 2012
Contra Costa Times