Lawyer Charged with Fraud in Snyder County

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MIDDLEBURG -- An update to an Action 16 investigative report concerning an attorney accused of forging a judge's name on a court settlement.

Attorney Stephen Ellwood is charged with a single count of fraud, and pleaded not guilty Monday morning.

Ellwood walked into the Snyder County Courthouse to be formally arraigned on one charge of forgery.  He is acting as his own defense attorney and is pleading not guilty.

The case is being handled in Snyder County because it involves a judge from Northumberland County.

Paperwork shows Ellwood admitted to a state grand jury that he forged the signature of Judge Charles Saylor.

Investigators say Ellwood created a bogus document that led former client Bob Bechtel to believe that Judge Saylor awarded him a $250,000 personal injury settlement in 2013.

"I have got bare minimum," Bechtel said. "A 10-year road to get to where we were prior to hiring Ellwood."

Bechtel currently lives in Locust Gap. He claims he's unable to sue his former landlord for injuries he suffered at a home in Kulpmont because Ellwood never served the landlord with the proper paperwork at the time of the suit.

Legally, it's now too late.

Stephen Ellwood has a lot riding on this case. If he's found guilty, there's the possibility he could go to jail, and the likelihood, according to several lawyers, that his license to practice law could be suspended or revoked.

"He needs to lose it forever, because he does not care about the legal, he does not care about the law," said Bechtel.

"What would you say to Mr. Bechtel if he were here?"

"I don't have any comment to make for you at this time," Ellwood replied.

Ellwood is currently free on bail.

Action 16 has learned two other former Ellwood clients have filed complaints with the disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court. They claim they paid Ellwood to represent them in civil cases but say he did little or no work.

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