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A South Jordan woman who posed as a lawyer and who even negotiated a plea deal for one client was sentenced Friday to 62 days in jail.
Karla Carbo, 30, pleaded guilty in July in 3rd District Court to second-degree felony counts of a pattern of unlawful activity, identity fraud, communication fraud, and one third-degree felony count of forgery.
In exchange for her pleas, prosecutors dismissed eight other counts.
On Friday, Judge Keith Kelly suspended potential prison terms of up to 15 years and, per a plea agreement negotiated by attorneys, ordered her to serve 90 days in jail, but gave her credit for 28 days already served..
As part of a 36-month probation, Carbo also must complete 75 hours of community service and treatment to address theft issues. She also must pay $7,274 in restitution to five "clients" who paid her for legal work.
The judge also ordered that she not engage in any legal-related employment.
She declined to comment Friday but her attorney Michael Langford told The Associated Press that she acknowledges responsibility and wants to move on with her life.
Prosecutors say Carbo had a law office in West Valley City and advertised legal services online, but has never been licensed to practice law in Utah. She represented five clients and charged them for services in criminal and divorce cases, authorities said.
Carbo used the name and bar number of Carla Stirling, a Utah State Bar-certified attorney whose practice is based in Bountiful, to avoid scrutiny and be allowed in the courtrooms in Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties, authorities said.
Summit County sheriff's Capt. Justin Martinez said after Carbo was arrested in December that her clients were mostly Hispanic immigrants.
The fraud was uncovered when a Draper Justice Court clerk contacted Stirling by email about a pending hearing, which left Stirling puzzled. She contacted the court, and then the state bar, which launched an investigation.
Court papers say Carbo appeared in a Park City-area courtroom on Dec. 15, 2014, and aided a defendant in entering a plea agreement to criminal charges. Carbo signed the court documents with the name "Karla Stirling Fierro" and used Stirling's bar number. She also charged the defendant, who found her through Facebook, $850 for her services, the documents state.
Bar officials notified Summit County prosecutors on Dec. 22, 2014, that "Karla Stirling Fierro" was not a licensed Utah attorney and that she appeared to be using another person's bar number.