Lawyer accused of faking court doc; more victims possible

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids attorney is facing a felony forgery charge for allegedly drafting a fraudulent court order.

Timothy David Vandenberg, 47, is accused of presenting forged documents related to parenting time and divorce cases.

According to court documents, Kent County sheriff’s detectives say Vandenberg admitted to drafting the court order at the center of the criminal case though he denies signing the document.

Vandenberg, of Caledonia, is only charged in one case in 63rd District Court, but detectives say they’ve identified four to five additional incidents and believe there may be more.

The fake court order he’s charged with drafting involved child custody and benefited his client.

The document reported that the husband of his client had a warrant out for his arrest and accused him of missing court dates. 

Detectives say the client did not know about the forgery.

“Vandenberg told his client that there were court hearings and told (her) that she did not have to attend,” wrote Detective Adrian Sybenga in a probable cause affidavit filed in 63rd District Court. “There was (sic) no court hearings.”

According to the affidavit, Vandenberg drafted the order and gave it to his client, which she then gave to her ex-husband. It was the ex who noticed there was no signature on the order.

When the client asked Vandenberg about it, the attorney then allegedly presented her with a court order that appeared to have a judge’s signature on it.

“It was later determined that this was a fake court order in Judge Ackert’s Court,” wrote Sybenga, a detective with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

“(Vandenberg) says that he turned the (order) over to a person who he cannot recall,” wrote Sybenga in the affidavit. “This person brought the document to the court. Vandenberg said another person that he cannot remember brought it back to him signed. Vandenberg then brought the fake court order to his client…”

The document was quickly confirmed as falsified because it lacked the seal of the court and because the signature was not consistent with the stamp the judge on the case typically uses to sign documents, Sgt. Joel Roon of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. Law enforcement was also able to quickly determine that there was no arrest warrant for the man in question.

“It’s a surprising act of fraud. I don’t know how he thought he was going to get away with it,” Roon said. “By all accounts this is rare. We don’t see this happen very often.”

Phone messages 24 Hour News 8 left seeking comment from Vandenberg were not immediately returned Wednesday.

If you have been a client of Vandenberg and believe you have evidence of criminal wrongdoing, you’re asked to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616.632.6100 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.

—24 Hour News 8’s Leon Hendrix contributed to this report.

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