UT woman accused in fake lawyer case banned from legal work

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — A Utah judge ordered a woman accused of posing as a lawyer and representing clients to stay out of the legal profession on Tuesday. Judge Ryan Harris did allow Karla Carbo, 29, to post $25,000 bail over the objections of prosecutors who argued she was a flight risk.

Karla Stirling, the attorney Carbo is suspected of impersonating, also asked the judge to keep her in jail during the Tuesday court hearing. “I’m still piecing together all the damage she apparently did in my name,” Stirling said. “We still don’t know how far this goes and how many people she’s injured.”

Stirling said she’s worried about her professional reputation and the hundreds of dollars that Carbo is accused of collecting in fees from clients who thought she was a real lawyer. Carbo may have also processed tax returns under different firm names and hired legitimate attorneys to work for her in Utah and California, Stirling said.

Defense attorney Michael Langford said he disputes the allegations and expects Carbo will post bail and be released. Carbo appeared Tuesday in a Summit County courtroom in an orange-and-white jail jumpsuit with hands and feet shackled, her highlighted brown hair worn loose. Prosecutors say she appeared in the same courthouse as an attorney last month and successfully negotiated a plea deal for a client who paid her $850.

Carbo appeared inexperienced during plea negotiations with one of his colleagues, prosecutor Ryan Stack said, but she didn’t raise suspicions until the plea was entered into court records. That’s when Utah State Bar officials saw the plea and reported that Carbo had been using Stirling’s bar number to represent clients.

Carbo also had a law office and advertised legal services online, even though she’s never been licensed to practice in Utah, according to charging documents. Police say they believe she targeted Hispanic immigrants and had at least two other victims. She’s facing four felony charges, including fraud and forgery. Her Summit County client was assigned a public defender, and lawyers are re-examining his case, Stack said.

Prosecutors asked Harris to keep her bail set at $25,000 in cash only Tuesday, arguing she has connections in California and could flee the state. Harris allowed Carbo to post bail. But he also required her to wear an ankle monitor, stay within a two-county area in northern Utah and surrender her passport.

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