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Previously convicted Appleton defense attorney accused of forging judge's signature Alison Dirr , USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Published 7:05 p.m. CT March 7, 2018 If you can help solve a crime, please contact the appropriate police agency. Duke Behnke/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin CONNECT TWEET LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTEMAILMORE APPLETON - A defense attorney previously convicted of contempt of court for deceiving a client into pleading to a higher charge than the client intended is now facing felony forgery charges in a separate case. The allegations in the case filed March 1 against Appleton defense attorney Michael D. Petersen, 35, of Fond du Lac mirror many of those litigated in the first case, which was filed in August 2015. In both cases, the charges stem from Outagamie County criminal cases he handled in 2014. Two felony charges — one of forgery and a second of uttering a forgery — were filed in last week's case. If convicted on both charges, he faces a maximum penalty of 12 years in the state prison system. Petersen's first court date is scheduled for May 1. RELATED: Defense lawyer charged with contempt of court Court records filed last week accuse Petersen of forging the signature of an Outagamie County Judge on a court order that stated that his client's charge was to be modified from a felony to a misdemeanor when he completed a "substantial part" of his sentence. An Appleton police sergeant was contacted in September 2016 by a man who said that he believed Petersen had deceived him while representing him in a felony drunken driving case. He said that Petersen told him that the plea agreement was that he would plead to the felony charge, which would be amended to a misdemeanor if he didn't violate the terms of probation. He entered the plea but when he later checked into it, he didn't see any indication that the agreement involved an amendment. He contacted Petersen, who gave him an unsigned copy of an order to amend the charge to a misdemeanor and told him that he would later give his client a signed copy. When the man didn't receive that signed copy, he went to Petersen's office, where Petersen gave him a copy of the order purportedly signed by an Outagamie County Judge. The judge told police he had never seen the document that supposedly had his signature on it. Although it looked like his signature, the judge said he had never signed the order. The judge "knows he never signed the order because the order related to a case pending before another judge and if he should be called upon to sign an order in such a circumstance, he would make note of it above his signature," the complaint states.
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