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June 19, 2012 > California judge charged with $1M elder theft

California judge charged with $1M elder theft

Submitted By AP Wire Service

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP), Jun 15 - An Alameda County judge has been arrested on suspicion of stealing at least $1.6 million from his 97-year-old neighbor after taking over the management of her and her husband's finances, authorities said.

Paul Seeman is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of elder theft, according to court and jail records. He was arrested a day earlier at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland after a months-long investigation by Berkeley police.

Seeman, 57, is accused of fleecing Anne Nutting, his neighbor in Berkeley, following her husband's death in 1999, allegedly selling two properties the couple owned in Santa Cruz after taking over as their power of attorney.

By 2004, he had assumed control over almost all of Nutting's financial affairs, according to investigators. They say he sold off her art and other possessions, stored his 1957 Ford Thunderbird in her garage and tried to bar her from returning to her home.

He also persuaded her to loan him $250,000 at 3 percent interest, but only made eight payments on the loan until he was contacted by police, according to authorities.

Nutting died in 2010. Police began investigating the case after they were contacted by an attorney she had hired to try to regain control over her financial affairs.

``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.''

Drenick said she did not know whether Seeman had hired an attorney. The Associated Press could not find a phone listing for Seeman, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported ( ) that a woman who answered the phone at his home hung up.

Seeman was appointed to the bench by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009. He was presiding over misdemeanor arraignments when he was arrested. Among his decisions, he ordered four Occupy protesters to stay away from the University of California, Berkeley in March.

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