A Mount Joy man told a woman he would represent her in court and accepted payment for legal services, but then never showed up, according to the East Hempfield Township Police Department.
Brandon Martin Smith, 33, was charged with theft by deception after accepting $250 to represent a woman at a hearing concerning a protection from abuse order despite not being a lawyer, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
The woman told investigators she had known Smith for years, keeping in touch with him through social media, police said. Smith had told the woman that he was a paralegal who had been mentored under a Lancaster County defense attorney and promised to represent her at an upcoming hearing.
When the woman arrived at court the morning of Dec. 23, Smith was absent, police said. The woman’s hearing was later continued.
Smith ignored the woman’s requests to return the money, telling her that his actions were not criminal because she had paid him for work he had already done up front, according to the affidavit, though investigators say there is no documentation to show that any services had been completed on her behalf. Investigators were also unable to find a law practice associated with Smith.
Authorities say they have been unable to contact Smith at all, according to the affidavit. Smith initially said he was “waiting until after the holidays” to speak with police.
Anyone with information as to Smith’s whereabouts is asked to call police at 717-898-3103.
Smith has convictions for various charges including assault, terroristic threats, theft, harassment, stalking, false imprisonment, impersonating a public servant and multiple drug offenses in Berks, Chester, Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties, court records show. He is also awaiting trial for theft, conspiracy and a firearms violation in Dauphin County.