A disbarred Cherry Hill attorney was charged with misrepresenting himself as a practicing lawyer and stealing from a client with money he was supposed to use to pay her injured child’s medical bills, Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk announced recently.
Stephen M. Hiltebrand, 61, of Cherry Hill, was charged with two counts of unauthorized practice of law and a single count of theft by failure to make required disposition, the prosecutor’s office said.
Hiltebrand turned himself in at the Cherry Hill Police Department and was released on a summons.
Hiltebrand voluntarily agreed to be disbarred by the state Office of Attorney Ethics in June 2011 after being accused of mishandling multiple clients’ funds, reports said.
By voluntarily agreeing to disbarment, Hiltebrand forfeited the right to practice law, or to present himself as a practicing attorney, in New Jersey, according to reports.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office says it received information from a couple that Hiltebrand had continued to represent them in their personal-injury suit after his disbarment. The office says it received a similar but unrelated allegation from a private company that had received correspondence from Hiltebrand in which he presented himself as an attorney representing the company’s opponent in a civil case.
In both cases, signed documents were obtained through the investigation that represented Hiltebrand as an attorney-at-law in New Jersey.
One of the incidents that led to Hiltebrand’s disbarment also resulted in the theft charge, the prosecutor’s office said.
One of his former clients reported in March that Hiltebrand withheld more than $4,000 in settlement funds from a personal-injury suit stemming from injuries the client’s child sustained in a car accident, reports said.
She reported Hiltebrand acted as fiduciary for her and supplied her with false documents — which he claimed proved he was paying her child’s medical expenses — including checks he allegedly sent to medical creditors to pay for her child’s treatment, the prosecutor said.
In reality, the prosecutor’s office says, Hiltebrand had not paid the medical bills.
Investigations revealed he had not adequately accounted for his client’s funds.
Hiltebrand was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1978, and he had an office in Cherry Hill on Route 38 prior to disbarment, according to records. Records also indicate he was reprimanded by a judicial-review board, in connection with the New Jersey Supreme Court, in 2002 on a similar matter.
An investigation is ongoing into Hiltebrand — and anyone who has questions about interactions with him are urged to contact Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Investigator Robin Morante at (856) 225–8480.