Todd Macaluso, a Rancho Santa Fe attorney, pleaded guilty today (April 14) to forging signatures of clients and notaries as part of a scheme to put personal-injury clients' cases up as collateral to investors without the clients' knowledge or consent.
According to court records, Macaluso funded his personal-injury law practice by entering into funding agreements with investors. They advanced Macaluso money in exchange for the right to collect a portion of clients' recoveries. But Macaluso concealed these arrangements from the clients and forged their signatures on financing documents. He also forged the signatures and stamps of notary publics who witnessed execution of the arrangements.
Separately, for three years Macaluso represented Nicolas Marsch III in a battle against the big builder Lennar Corporation. Together, they were developing a golf property in Rancho Santa Fe. They became embroiled in lawsuits against one another. It wound up with Marsch getting hit with a $1 billion judgment for smearing Lennar. Marsch went into Chapter 7 bankruptcy and charged Macaluso with malpractice.