January 19, 2007
Springfield, Mo. — A Springfield man was arrested Thursday (Jan. 18) on charges he defrauded several people by misrepresenting that he could practice law. Alton Louis Vaughn (DOB - 8/17/56) was indicted on eight counts of unlawful merchandising practices by the Greene County grand jury at the request of Attorney General Jay Nixon, whose office will prosecute the case. The defendant is currently being held on $75,000 bond and will face arraignment on Jan. 25.
Vaughn, who often refers to himself with the title "Bishop," is charged with knowingly defrauding at least eight individuals into paying him more than $60,000 for legal services between December 2003 and May 2005, even though the defendant was not licensed to practice law. Vaughn allegedly misrepresented that he was able to practice law and provide legal services to residents of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas through Pro Se Help International and Citizens for Pro Se, organizations he helped found. Vaughn would allegedly demand additional payments from his clients while claiming to represent them, fail to complete work on the cases and then neglect to refund payments made to him by those clients.
Nixon said Vaughn's alleged victims included:
In November, Nixon filed four counts of unlawful merchandising practices against Vaughn. Those allegations will now be prosecuted as part of the grand jury indictment, along with the four additional charges.
Unlawful merchandising practices is a Class D felony under Missouri law, punishable upon conviction by up to four years in prison and a fine of $5,000 per count. The pending charges against the defendant are merely accusations. As in all criminal cases, the defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.