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Victim of lawyer who faked documents facing extortion charge

|Written By Neil Etienne

In a twist to the matter of a disbarred lawyer who wrote fake court rulings, both he and his victim have upcoming court dates after police charged his former client with extortion.

York Regional Police have confirmed Rob Danninger, 47, is facing one count of extortion and will make a first appearance in Newmarket, Ont., on Oct. 1. Const. Andy Pattenden says Danninger is due to appear that day in the Ontario Court of Justice on the allegation he demanded a $25,000 sum.

From 2012-13, Danninger, owner of Daro Flooring Constructions Inc., was the client of Brian Nicholson, a Mississauga, Ont., lawyer disbarred by the Law Society Tribunal earlier this year over findings that he had created numerous court orders, endorsements, e-mails, and notices favourable to his case against another company. The tribunal found Nicholson had faked elaborate endorsements, sometimes with addenda, signed under the names of actual judges in Ontario. In one such fabrication, Nicholson impersonated a judge and wrote an order for the payment of a $3-million fine in favour of Danninger for breaches of an injunction the court had never actually ordered.

“It was prolonged; the misleading was extravagant,” said Law Society of Upper Canada counsel Leslie Maunder during the proceedings.

Nicholson admitted to the fabrication in an agreed statement of facts and told Law Times he was going through a personal crisis at the time following a divorce and his father’s death. He also said he was acting out of fear of disappointing his client. “Some of the evidence that wasn’t included in the agreed statement of facts was that the client was overbearing and threatening at times,” said Nicholson.

Following his admission to his client, Nicholson made a $25,000 payment to Danninger, an amount described as restitution to the tribunal.

Besides the law society proceedings, police also charged Nicholson with fraud, obstruct justice, and uttering false documents.

Nicholson and his new wife, Vanessa Gartner, say they’re confident at least a portion of the charges against him will be dropped at a court appearance on Sept. 24 and that he otherwise stands by his admission of guilt in terms of falsifying documents.

“All of this has caused a lot of stress for us,” says Gartner, who alleges Danninger threatened Nicholson’s livelihood unless they made the $25,000 payment. She says they complied out of fear for Nicholson’s career.

None of the allegations has been proven in court. For his part, Danninger calls the allegations “ridiculous” and says he won’t comment further on the case until after his court date and the results of Nicholson’s trial at which he’ll be a Crown witness. “I will say it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life,” says Danninger.   

For more, see "Lawyer disbarred for writing fake orders."

  • Why the surprise?

    Dave Warren
    I do believe the client has a right to be furious. I've heard almost every excuse going for incompetence and dishonesty. "Lawyers' oversight" was a good one. Why are we surprised that such a client would want to choke the crap out such a lawyer? What does it say about a profession that finds this even remotely defensible?. He should be afraid...very afraid.
  • Barrrister & Solicitor

    Janice R. Johnosn
    This sad story reminds me again, that we should not represent friends or family. It is stressful enough to try and make content those who do not have our home number.
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