Bust Me if You Can

If it looks like a lawyer and quacks like a lawyer, is it really a lawyer?

"I don't have anything against his father," former Pompano mayor John Rayson says. "I guess he had a soft spot for his son, which is understandable. I feel bad for Jim Eddy."

"The shame of it all," says Senator Geller with a sigh, "is that this kid is a likable kid, and if he'd just done things honestly, he'd have a brilliant career in front of him." Geller says his trust may be irretrievably broken. "If Chas said it was daylight outside, you'd have to go outside and check."

Brady smiles for the mugshot camera.
Brady smiles for the mugshot camera.

According to Detective John Calabro, an economic crimes investigator with the Broward Sheriff's Office, Brady's deception was not limited to business associates. Even Brady's girlfriend thought he was a Harvard Law grad.

During Calabro's testimony at a hearing to revoke Brady's bond, Calabro said that the young woman attended functions, both locally and in New York, with Brady and Dr. Zachariah. When she learned of his arrest, "she was distraught and destroyed," Calabro said.

Dr. Glen Caddy, a professor in clinical psychology, had counseled Brady since 2004. He too testified at the hearing. He tried to cull sympathy for the defendant. Brady's natural father was abusive, Caddy said, and addicted to alcohol. Young Chas grew up in this environment, at times having to protect his own sister. As a result, he suffered from depression and a personality disorder.

"At about age 13, Mr. Brady made certain decisions about how he was going to live his life." Caddy said. He "determined that he was never going to not have money in his pocket, and he was never going to have a lack of status. " His "fantasies about practicing law" were developed so he'd feel more important. "Because, fundamentally, he has a very limited sense of his own intrinsic worth."

"I think," Dr. Caddy said, "that his time in detention, and the reality of the forces that he now has to face, have actually been beneficial to him, because I think they have provided him with an ultimate reality check."

Prosecutor David Schulson asked perhaps the most obvious question: "he has the intellectual ability, so why didn't he go through college, and go through law school?"

"Because," Caddy replied, "He believed he knew everything there was to know without going to college."

Schulson conceded that Brady's crime wasn't nearly as bad as aggravated battery or armed robbery — but "emotionally, people are humiliated, depressed, distraught by what he has done to them."

Brady's defense lawyer had an interesting comeback.

"He was leading people to believe he was an attorney," Lawrence Livoti said. "That's not the same as practicing law, Judge."

Pointing out that Brady is facing a massive prison sentence for a nonviolent crime, Livoti now says that the charges are a clear instance of "overprosecution, period." Hanging in the air was the question of whether the state is being aggressive because of the high-powered nature of the victims involved.

"It is illogical to prosecute somebody and expect restitution if you want that person to go to prison," Livoti says. "It is the equivalent of needing a quart of milk and sending the cow to the slaughterhouse."

Livoti believes the state has a weak case. In the hearing, he pointed out the fine print on some of the documents associated with the deals Brady made. On contracts and invoices, Eddy was paid legal fees, but at least in some cases, Brady's charges were specifically for line items like "land use fee" or "lobbying" or "consulting."

Brady's current public defender, Bernard Bober, said, "In a majority of instances he did not actually tell people he was a lawyer, but people assumed he was because of the way he behaved. He certainly didn't do anything to dissuade them."

Bober says Brady has owned up to some of the charges — like forgery— which gives him "a certain degree of credibility." Bober is confident that the prosecution will work with him to give Brady a reasonable plea deal — that doesn't carry a riduculous sentence.

Otherwise, Brady's guilt or innocence might depend on a jury's interpretation of the illegal practice of law. Florida statutes say that anyone who "holds himself or herself out to the public as qualified to practice law... or willfully takes or uses any name, title, addition, or description implying that he or she is qualified" commits a third-degree felony.

So long as he didn't accept fees for a lawyer's work or claim to be a member of the Bar, Livoti argued, Brady wasn't a criminal.

"Was he introduced to Fred Thompson?" Livoti asked rhetorically. "Maybe. So what?" Zachariah never claimed to lose any money to Brady. "Dr. Zachariah's trust was betrayed. My client is profoundly sorry for that. But it's not a crime."

And what kind of dummy just puts somebody on their American Express card? "There's a lot of rich people who, I'd like for me to get on their credit cards!" Livoti cried. Brady did reimburse Saddi for many of the charges and would have repaid every nickel if he hadn't been thrown in jail, Livoti claimed.

As for posing as a successful professional trying to impress a lady, Livoti pointed out, "It happens every Friday and Saturday night at the Blue Martini, every bar, and every gin joint in every town in all the world. That's not a crime."

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