OAKLAND (CBS SF) – An Alameda County Superior Court judge who is facing 32 felony counts for allegedly stealing at least $1.6 million from his elderly neighbor in the Berkeley Hills has agreed to resign.
Judge Paul Seeman, 58, was put on leave shortly after he was arrested in his chambers at Oakland’s Wiley Manuel Courthouse last June, but he had continued to receive his salary until his resignation.
The charges against Seeman stem from allegations that he stole from his neighbor, Anne Nutting, after her husband Lee died in 1999 at age 90.
An amended complaint that was filed on March 1 charges Seeman with 12 counts each of perjury and offering a false or forged instrument, three counts each of elder theft and grand theft, and two counts of unauthorized disclosure of information.
All of the counts are felonies except for the two counts of unauthorized disclosure of information, which are misdemeanors.
Berkeley police had investigated Seeman for more than two years before his arrest.
A declaration filed by police in court states that Seeman had befriended Netting in December 1998 after her husband took a fall at the couple’s home on Santa Barbara Road and police found the home to be uninhabitable because of hoarding.
Police said in the document that the following month, Seeman obtained power of attorney for the couple after finding $1 million in stock certificates and uncashed dividend checks in their home.
After Lee Nutting died in late 1999, Seeman allegedly arranged the sale of two Santa Cruz properties the couple owned, police said.
By August 2004, according to the document, Seeman had assumed control of nearly all of Anne Nutting’s monetary affairs, putting his name on her financial accounts, which contained more than $2.2 million.
Over time, police said, Seeman allegedly sold off Nutting’s art collection and other possessions, tried to bar her from her home and parked his 1958 Ford Thunderbird in her garage.
Nutting died at the age of 97 in April 2010.
Victoria Henley, chief counsel for the Commission on Judicial Performance, which has the authority to remove judges from office, said the commission began a preliminary investigation of Seeman on June 29, 2011.
He has agreed to resign and not seek or hold judicial office in California at any time in the future, Henley said.
She said that in light of Seeman’s resignation, the commission has agreed to defer its preliminary investigation of him and further proceedings until his criminal case has been resolved.
Seeman’s attorney, Kathleen Ewins, said, “Judge Seeman has had a distinguished career and he feels this was an appropriate action to take at this time for the good of the court.”
Henley said there is a shortage of judges on the Alameda County Superior Court bench and that Seeman’s resignation will allow Gov. Jerry Brown to appoint someone to fill his position.
Seeman’s case returns to court on April 18 for the scheduling of a preliminary hearing.
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