‘Students For Trump’ Founder Jailed For Posing As A Lawyer

John Lambert pretended to be a lawyer named Eric Pope, of the Manhattan-based firm Pope & Dunn. He falsely claimed to be a graduate of NYU Law School with a finance degree from the University of Pennsylvania with 15 years of experience in corporate and patent law. The co-founder of Students For Trump, Lambert positioned himself as a top fundraiser along with his friend and classmate Ryan Fournier during the 2016 presidential campaign. Students for Trump group ran a Twitter account featuring photos of bikini-clad women and pics of themselves at political events, giving them national attention and devoted followings on their individual Twitter accounts as well as the account for the group itself. Lambert, who looked young enough to still be in high school, maintained a very public-facing position with the group, making himself available to the media in the hopes of gaining favor with Trump himself.

“We’ve been told that we’re more organized than the actual Trump campaign,” Lambert told The Chronicle of Higher Education before the 2016 election.

But while Lambert and Fournier were running Students For Trump, they were also running an internet scam where Lambert posed as the lawyer Pope and grifted roughly $46,000 from people who were seeking legal counsel and assistance. Lambert was originally arrested in August 2019 and plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to the scam; he also indicated he didn’t act alone. Fournier later worked with prosecutors in exchange for a reduction in his charges.

The pair scammed at least six individuals and corporations. Their scheme involved a web of fake phone numbers and fabricated profiles. In order to craft the persona of Pope, Lambert built a website with material copied and pasted from the website of the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

Lambert’s original sentencing had been postponed due to the COVID19 pandemic. In court on Tuesday, Judge Valerie Caproni, who had presided over the early proceedings, called Lambert a “a cold-blooded fraudster who cared not a whit about the victims of his fraud” before sentencing him to 13 months in prison for posing as a lawyer.

Lambert claims that he no longer supports Trump. “I lost focus on who I was. My ignorance was a disrespect to the law and my country,” Lambert said in Manhattan Federal Court. “My life will be forever marked by this poor choice at a young age.”

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