Students For Trump Co-Founder Turns To Life Of Crime And Fake Lawyering
Last week, federal agents arrested 23-year-old John Lambert of Tennessee for pretending to be a high-powered New York City attorney and then bilking his "clients" out of over $16,000. Lambert, calling himself Eric Pope, set up a website for a fake law firm called Pope and Dunn, creating biographies for all of his fake lawyers by copying and pasting from the website for an actual NYC law firm, Cravath, Swaine and Moore.
On Wednesday, The New York Law Journal reported that this John Lambert is the same John Lambert who co-founded the Students for Trump PAC with another student named Ryan Fournier at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, back in 2015. At the time the two founded the group, they were the subject of several insipid profiles about millennials who love Trump. Lambert appeared on NBC and Fox, and even made appearances with the equally skeevy Milo Yiannopoulos.
Lambert appears to have left the group and the college in 2017 in order to embark on his life of crime with an unnamed co-conspirator who has been cooperating with the FBI since April of 2018. In that short amount of time, he scammed several companies and several consumers who were having issues with their credit rating. In one particularly gross instance:
One of the consumers took money from his or her 401(k) account to pay "Pope" more than $10,000, but the phony lawyer eventually stopped responding to emails, the agent said.
Wow, he sure sounds like he might be a sociopath. However, looking over the logistics of his scheme, he is a sociopath who is actually terrible at crime:
As of Wednesday morning, a profile for "Pope and Dunn," Lambert's purported law firm, was still available on the freelancing website Upwork. The profile linked to a defunct website whose archived version from 2017 includes a snazzy logo and claims the firm "protected" more than $380 million for more than 2,000 clients. It also lists five "attorney" profiles that appear to have been partly copied from Cravath's website.
One of the supposed lawyers, Howard Whittington, is described as helping banks "in a wide variety of domestic and international financial transactions, including financing of mergers, acquisitions, recapitalizations and spin‑offs, working capital financings and various special‑purpose financings." That phrase appears word-for-word on the Cravath profile of retired partner James Cooper.
Pope and Dunn's website also called its supposed lawyer Gregory Shapiro "one of the foremost leaders in the field of intellectual property, including intellectual property management and strategy, the development of global intellectual property norms, laws and practices as well as commercialization and enforcement of innovation‑based assets." That is just one word off from the Cravath profile of partner David Kappos.
It sure is hard to be a criminal mastermind when your entire scheme can be undone with one fell Google search. I am not in the business of offering crime tips, but jeez -- if you're gonna try and pull something like this, you should at least have the sense to write the fake biographies for your fake lawyers yourself. That is just obvious.
This may not be the first time Lambert has been involved in shady dealings. In February of 2018, Students For Trump got in trouble with the FEC for refusing to tell them what they were doing and who was funding them. Although Lambert was no longer with the group by then, members told The Daily Beast that those issues were actually all his fault. The group, for the record, has still not filed any income or spending reports. Naturally, they plan to be active in 2020 and currently have an article on their Facebook about how Nixon was the real victim in the Watergate scandal.
It's not clear what kind of sentence he'll receive, but if he's not in there for long, he may still have a bright future as Jacob Wohl's protegé.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse