Saturday, December 16, 2017
Public safety

Police: Man who claimed to be lawyer, promised to help families works at Walmart

ST. PETERSBURG — Anthony Dexter Moragne said he was a lawyer, according to police. He said he could provide legal help to two families whose relatives were serving time in prison.

In exchange for his help, Moragne took more than $6,000 from the families and claimed he was attending court hearings and filing motions on their behalf, police said.

None of it was true.

Moragne isn't a lawyer. He works at Walmart.

He was charged Wednesday with grand theft and scheme to defraud in connection with what officials said was a scam.

It began in January when relatives of two prison inmates came to the NAACP's St. Petersburg office seeking legal advice, authorities said. Moragne, who police said served as chairman of the Legal Redress Board of the local NAACP, agreed to help them, authorities said.

He told the family he was an investigator for the Florida Attorney General's Office and had access to judges, authorities said. Later, he told them he had filed various motions and legal paperwork. In return, the families paid Moragne a total of $5,075, authorities said.

In a meeting with another family, who also sought legal help for a relative in prison, Moragne, 43, claimed he was an adjunct professor at Stetson University College of Law, an arrest report states. He said his students would handle their case. They paid him $1,500.

No motions were filed. No court hearings were held.

Moragne was booked Tuesday in the Pinellas County Jail and later released on $20,000 bond.

He previously served seven years in prison for a 1990 armed robbery conviction, according to state records. He returned to prison after a 1998 conviction for grand theft of a motor vehicle and a 1999 conviction for grand theft. He was released in 2003.

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