It's a plot twist straight out of the “Real Housewives” television series.
Two women. One man. A love triangle. A doctored court document — complete with a forged signature of a judge — telling the other woman to scram.
Call it “The Jealous Girlfriends of Douglas and Sarpy Counties.”
Prosecutors are calling it a crime.
The Douglas County Attorney's Office has charged a 22-year-old Bellevue woman with two misdemeanors — impersonating a public servant and abuse of public records — on allegations that she dummied up a protection order against her boyfriend's former girlfriend.
Instead of going to court, the woman downloaded a document and mailed her own protection order to the ex — forging the signature of Douglas County District Judge James Gleason in the process, prosecutor Katie Benson said.
The reason she chose Gleason, the presiding judge of Douglas County? She told investigators his name reminded her of the TV show “Glee.”
The case against Amarissa J. Jordan is just the latest in what court officials say is often the most used and abused part of the justice system: the protection order.
By far the most common litigation in district court — Douglas County has 250 to 300 protection-order cases a month — such orders restrict people from contacting or harassing others. They're usually effective for a year and carry criminal consequences if they're violated.
But the orders often contain only one version of the story — a version that may be worth less than the paper it's printed on.
John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court since 2007, said it was the first time he could remember someone forging a judge's signature in any case.
“Just a very bold action,” Friend said. “She thought the bureaucracy wouldn't catch it. Well, I can tell you, it did not go over well.”
The document is at least the third protection-order scam sniffed out by Douglas County court officials in the past decade. In 2004, prosecutors charged an Omaha man with abusing a public record by doctoring a protection order to make it look as if he had custody of his children. He was convicted and sentenced to 45 days in jail.
In May, an Omaha woman applied for, and initially received, a protection order against a man she claimed was her boyfriend. She wrote that the 36-year-old man twice attacked her — once on April 21 and again on April 25. She wrote, in big letters, that the man “hits me in my face, damages my car, pulls my hair, sends threatening texts (and) says he will kill me.”
After reading those accounts, Judge Edna Atkins issued the protection order.
When sheriff's officials delivered the protection order to the man, they found the purportedly petrified girlfriend at his side. She told sheriff's officials she had never filled out any request and alleged that her twin sister actually filled out the protection order.
On May 4, she went to court and requested that a judge drop the order. “I did not file this protection order,” she wrote. “My twin sister filed without my knowledge.”
The problem: Investigators have yet to find any evidence that the woman actually has a twin sister. They suspect that she got cold feet and concocted the twin story in order to try to drop the protection order against her boyfriend.
“We don't know whether the twin even exists,” Friend said. “It's not clear at this point.”
The love-triangle case is a little clearer.
According to the reports of Charlie Venditte, an investigator for the Douglas County Attorney's Office:
In late April, Jordan went online and found a form to apply for a protection order.
She filled it out, listing her and her boyfriend's names as the petitioners and a Papillion woman — her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend — as the purported harasser.
She didn't fill out the required factual basis for the request.
Instead, Jordan used a computer to put X's by the lines that said the ex-girlfriend was prohibited from “harassing, telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating” with her. She signed the judge's name, sent it by mail and left a voice mail on the woman's phone: “Any contact from here on out will be held against you. Don't call or text. You will be arrested.”
After receiving the purported protection order, the Papillion woman went to the Douglas County Courthouse to request a hearing to contest it. Court officials could find no record of any order. Venditte launched an investigation.
A few things gave away the scam:
» The protection order listed “DOUGLAS, SARPY” as the jurisdiction. Though effective across the state, a protection order lists only the county it is filed in.
» The judge's signature. The order had a tall, skinny rendition of James T. Gleason's signature that wasn't even close to the real one.
» The protection order was sent by Priority Mail, listed a nonsensical court case number that resembled a phone number and had a made-up court official's name in the return address.
Confronted with the discrepancies, Jordan admitted that she had forged the document. In a four-page handwritten statement, she said she was driven to do so after the ex-girlfriend had driven past her house, phoned and sent numerous texts to her and her boyfriend.
She said she went online to find the form.
“I want to be truthful. I copied and signed the judge's name on the document bc (because) there was no way to click or choose his name to be put on doc,” she wrote in her statement. “I printed the document and mailed it, wanting it to take effect immediately. All I wanted was for this to be over as soon as possible.”
The end won't come soon. Jordan faces an initial court appearance in late June, then a trial if she chooses.
If convicted, she faces up to six months in jail.
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