Students For Trump Co-Founder Ryan Fournier Not Real Into Whole 'Honor Among Thieves' Thing
The co-founder of "Students for Trump," John Lambert, was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 13 months in prison for operating a scam law firm in which he pretended to be a lawyer, but didn't bother actually going to law school. As "Students for Trump," Lambert and his pal Ryan Fournier managed to get some loving attention from MAGAworld for their social media stunts, like having pretty young women in swimsuits pose with guns and pro-Trump messages. Brilliant stuff, truly.
But then there was the fraud, what with the fake law firm and stuff. In 2016, Lambert and Fournier started the scam, creating a website for the nonexistent "Pope and Dunn" firm, complete with profiles of lawyers who had really impressive credentials. And of course they were impressive, since Lambert and Fournier cribbed the text for the nonexistent lawyers' qualifications and career highlights from a real law firm. Lambert himself posed as a "graduate of the New York University School of Law" named Eric Pope, who he pretended was a top-flight corporate attorney who would be happy to help you with your legal problems.
Lambert was nabbed by the FBI and charged in the scheme in 2019, thanks to a then-unnamed co-conspirator who'd been cooperating with the FBI since 2018.
Why yes, that cooperating witness, we learned this week, was Lambert's buddy and fellow MAGA douche Ryan Fournier. Cue the dramatic prairie dog!
Lambert and Fournier marketed their fake lawyering scheme to people who weren't necessarily all that sophisticated when it came to knowing how real law firms work, and Lambert eventually pocketed some $46,000 from the marks, according to prosecutors. But as Wonkette's own Liz Dye put it in her story on the case at Above the Law, "Lambert, who is now 25, fails to have grasped the most basic tenet of criminal law: always be the guy who flips first."
At the Daily Beast, Will Sommer explains that documents filed by prosecutors say Fournier decided to flip on his good pal "in the hope of not being charged for his role in the wire-fraud conspiracy." And in some aspects of their scheme, the two put at least some effort into the deception, as long as you don't include stuff like plagiarizing lawyer profiles that anybody with Google could uncover:
The pair allegedly went to great lengths to trick people into thinking they were high-powered lawyers, including spoofing a phone number with a Manhattan area code, when they were based in North Carolina. Both Lambert and his co-conspirator claimed to have law degrees under their aliases that they did not in fact have, according to court filings.
In trying to get some kind of clemency for their client, Lambert's defense team portrayed him as a naive victim of Fournier's criminal master-minding. One filing said that Fournier even posed as some kind of sophistimacated New Yorker, noting that he "grew up in New Jersey but often claimed to be from Manhattan." You can see how an innocent lad from North Carolina could be led astray by such an act.
Our favorite bit of puffery on Lambert's behalf, though, is this passage from a defense memo (sorry, it's behind a PACER paywall), in which his attorneys insist Lambert was just a simple goof led astray by basic cable and a sincere desire to help people, don't you know. Also, video games did it, why not?
John Tyler's youth created a non-reality-based perception of "practicing law," which was fueled by TV shows such as "Suits." [...] Shows such as "Suits" led John Tyler to believe he could "practice" at being a lawyer by performing tasks that he believed would be beneficial to his customers without significant risk, just as the character "Mike Ross" in "Suits" practiced law without a law degree or license and kept that secret without penalty. John Tyler's experiences playing online community gaming with others, requiring the assumption of various personas, carried over into his development of an attorney persona. John Tyler's youthful exuberance led him to believe that he could create a fake persona and act like a TV character, all with the goal of trying to learn the law and help others, without comprehending the consequences of his actions. John Tyler now fully acknowledges and appreciates the consequences of his actions.
We never actually watched Suits, but we're pretty sure one of the key distinctions is that the fictional paralegals in that show actually knew law stuff and did the legwork to help their "clients," instead of just taking their money then demanding more if the "client" complained.
One of Lambert's victims, a very real person who wasn't exuberant at all, complained in a letter to Judge Valerie Caproni that Lambert didn't actually respond to requests for information on his "case," largely because Lambert wasn't actually doing anything. When asked what exactly Lambert was doing, the victim wrote,
[Lambert] told me that I was insane for ever questioning him and that I should be ashamed of myself for questioning his integrity. He berated me on the phone and told me that I was irrational for ever questioning such an esteemed attorney from New York and started demanding that I send him a huge amount of money or that he would not do anymore work for me. In truth he had never done one bit of work for me.
We'd bet Lambert actually called himself "an esteemed attorney from New York," as all the best lawyers do.
At his sentencing hearing, Lambert explained he was just an ordinary fella who got all wrapped up in a game of make-believe, as boys will, but he's learned his lesson, you bet! "I lost focus on who I was. My ignorance was a disrespect to the law and my country. [...] My life will be forever marked by this poor choice at a young age."
Poor little fraudy guy. Like so many fraudsters and Trump supporters who tried to overthrow the government, he just got caught up in a heady fantasy, and barely noticed he was harming real people.
Judge Caproni wasn't all that sympathetic, maybe because she has the uncommon ability to know that reality and TV are different things. She called Lambert a "cold-blooded fraudster who cared not a whit about the victims of his fraud," and noted he "did not even have the common decency to make up an excuse and tell the victim to hire another attorney."
As for Ryan Fournier, he's still out there on social media saving the world from Joe Biden and socialism through memes, and yelling at people who still support Trump but don't support him that they can "go fuck yourself, I really do not give a shit about you, because you are a peasant motherfucker [...] Because guess what? Fuck you."
Students for Trump? More like a student of Trump.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.