Former lawyer pleads guilty to bilking elderly woman out of $80kBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
September 11. 2018 4:26PM
BRENTWOOD — A former Exeter lawyer pleaded guilty Monday to charges he financially exploited an elderly woman.
Thomas U. Gage, 58, of Newfields, faces the possibility of at least two years in prison as part of a plea deal with state prosecutors that was outlined during a hearing in Rockingham County Superior Court.
Gage pleaded guilty to two counts of financial exploitation of an elderly woman after taking out five credit cards in her name and charging more than $80,000 between January 2015 and January 2016.
Gage, who formally practiced in Exeter, was disbarred for unrelated reasons in 2016.
Assistant Attorney General Brandon Garod said he plans to seek a two- to four-year prison sentence and restitution for the victim, who was a family friend of Gage’s as well as a former client.
Garod said Gage approached the 71-year-old woman and told her he was trying to refurbish a house his parents had left to him into an apartment building.
Garod said Gage claimed that his credit was too poor to obtain financing and told the woman that if he could set up a limited liability company and use her personal information to obtain loans there would be no risk to her because the LLC would inherit the debt and it wouldn’t reflect on her credit report.
Garod said Gage also claimed that if his plan was successful the victim could share in some of the profits.
“He basically pitched it as a win-win with no risk. Come to find out, ultimately, he obtained five different credit cards in her name and did not establish an LLC like he told her he would do. He used all of the money to pay himself to his two businesses, Gage Law Offices and Quality Title Company, which is an offshoot of his law firm,” said Garod, who works in the Consumer Protection and Anti-Trust Bureau’s Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit.
Gage maxed out the credit cards and left the victim with the debt, Garod said.
Garod said the victim agreed to let him use her personal credit information, but was under the impression that it wasn’t her debt and that he was using the money to renovate the home, which he actually did not own.
Garod said some of the credit card companies have been willing to work with the victim to rectify the situation while others have told her that she’s on the hook because she knew about the money he was accessing.
“I think this particular victim was extremely vulnerable due to the relationship with Mr. Gage. She trusted him completely because he was her former attorney and a close friend of the family. She had no reason to question any of the representations he made to her, especially the legal representations made to her,” he said.
Gage will be sentenced on Nov. 15.