Lawyer who stole brother’s identity to get into law school disbarred

Avatar photo

By Thomas Connelly on

The Philippines’ answer to Suits


A lawyer who stole his younger brother’s identity in order to get into law school has been disbarred by a Philippines’ court this week.

Having finished secondary school, Richard A. Caronan and his brother, Patrick, embarked on very different routes into adulthood. Patrick went on to do a degree in business administration before landing a managerial role at a 7-11 convenience store.

Meanwhile his elder sibling Richard — who originally enrolled at university — ended up switching to the Philippine Military Academy, where he was discharged after just a year.

Having helped with the family-owned car rental business for a number of years, it would appear Richard fancied a career in law.

According to local news website Rappler, Richard used his brother Patrick’s identity to enrol at a law school in 1999. The motivation for using Patrick’s academic records and identity appears to be that Richard did not have an undergraduate degree, which he needed to bag a place at law school.

To his credit, Richard — now posing as attorney Patrick A. Caronan — completed his legal qualifications. Having discovered his brother was using his name to practise law some five year later, Patrick, in what is a clear testament to brotherly love, was initially okay with it.

Unfortunately problems occurred when attorney Patrick A. Caronan (Richard) was accused of “gun-running” and being in possession of illegal “explosives.” According to the report, Patrick (the real one) was called into 7-11 headquarters to speak to the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation. At this point Patrick fessed up and explained to officers that his brother had pinched his identity.

With Richard arrested, Patrick was forced to quit his job fearing for his safety and having become the target of office gossip. Clearly annoyed at his brother, he filed a formal complaint to bar regulators in 2013.

In a judgment issued earlier this week, the Supreme Court said Richard had made a:

[M]ockery of the legal profession by pretending to have the necessary qualifications to be a lawyer. He also tarnished the image of lawyers with his alleged unscrupulous activities, which resulted in the filing of several criminal cases against him.

Disbarring Richard, the court — in a disciplinary move that would go down a storm at the bar of England and Wales — ordered that photographs of him be circulated around courts “nationwide”, warning of his false name and identity. He may also face civil and criminal charges.