March 2015, PA: Lawyer Stephen P.Ellwood of Schuylkill County Arrested, Charged with Forging Judge’s Signature.

Bob Bechtel retained Ellwood in 2010 to file suit against the owners of a house in which he claimed he was injured while doing improvements. The house is now condemned. While repairing the cellar doors, the whole structure collapsed, injuring Bechtel’s neck. Attorney Ellwood was hired to sue the landlord for medical costs and lost wages.

Ellwood created a false court order and forged the signature of County Judge Charles H. Saylor to convince Betchel that he won a $250k settlement. Of that settlement, Ellwood would collect $25k.

When Betchel did not receive the money, and Ellwood would not return his calls, he hired another attorney, Thomas Waffenschmidt. Waffenschmidt looked at the court order and noticed the judge’s name was spelled wrong. He called the judge’s law clerk, who confirmed that it was not a real court order.

The case was forwarded to the state attorney general, a criminal investigation was then opened for felony fraud. Ellwood was subsequently arrested and charged.

In the meanwhile, the statute of limitations for Bob Betchel to serve his ex-landlord with paperwork expired, meaning he cannot ask for damages. Betchel is struggling to pay medical expenses and says, “I`m not going to see my justice and I’m not going to see a dime. I bet my bottom dollar. I’m not going to see a dime.”

Read More:

“Jailed attorney faces new charges” by Eric Poole, Ellwood City Ledger, 5/21/2013:

“Statewide grand jury investigating forged Northumberland County court order” by John Beauge, Penn Live, 2/29/2015:

  • “Who Forged a Judge’s Signature in a Lawsuit?” by Dave Bohman, WNEP, 3/10/2015: