John Lambert is the founder of Students for Trump. On August 6, he pleaded guilty to running a $46,000 scheme in which he posed as a lawyer and provided legal services for clients, The New York Daily News reported.
Lambert, 23, pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to wire fraud conspiracy. Under his plea deal, Lambert will not appeal any sentence that is 21 months or less.
Lambert also agreed to forfeit $46,654 he earned in the scheme.
While living in North Carolina, Lambert and an unidentified accomplice set up a fake law firm called Pope & Dunn. Lambert posed as Eric Pope, who claimed to be a graduate of New York University Law School who had 15 years of experience in corporate and patent law, according to prosecutors.
Lambert, who is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, said in court that the pair represented themselves as “qualified lawyers” who were “providing legal services.”
“Are you an attorney?” asked Judge Valerie Caproni.
“No, your honor,” he said.
“John Lambert represented himself to clients as a prominent New York attorney with a law degree from an elite law school. But Lambert’s de facto career was one of a grifter: he had never been to law school and certainly wasn’t an attorney. Today, Lambert admitted to his crimes and faces time in prison for his misdeeds,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. John Lambert Founded Students for Trump in 2015
Lambert and his Campbell University classmate Ryan Fournier founded “Students for Trump” in 2015, Politico reported.
Lambert grew up in eastern Tennesee, according to a bio on the “Students for Trump” site that has since been removed.
“At a young age his parents taught values of morality and deep fiscal responsibility to him,” the page said. “He comes from a family of multigenerational business owners who helped to build the infrastructure of America. While in high school he founded a private sector social media marketing company with some business colleagues. After striking success, he sold his company to focus on school, dedicating time to the crucially important 2016 election, and fixing his passion on capital investing and land development.”
After enrolling in Campbell University, Fournier recruited Lambert to be the co-founder of his pro-Trump group, where Lambert also served as treasurer.
2. Lambert Appeared at Trump Rallies & on TV Interviews
Lambert, Fournier, and their group appeared at Trump rallies, on college campuses, and in TV interviews throughout 2016.
“We’ve been told that we’re more organized than the actual Trump campaign,” Lambert bragged to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The group published an open letter in February of 2016, saying that Lambert and Fournier “met with Mr. Trump and top campaign officials to discuss what lies ahead for our organization. They expressed how proud they were of our efforts and members getting involved in the campaign.” The Trump campaign denied coordinating with the group.
In May 2016, the group posted a photo of Lambert shaking hands with Jeff Sessions, who would go on to become Trump’s attorney general.
3. Lambert Posed as a Lawyer While Campaigning for Trump
In August 2016, federal prosecutors said Lambert and an unidentified co-conspirator set up a company called “Headline Consulting,” which offered legal services online, Politico reported. Lambert described himself as attorney Eric Pope.
Lambert continued to campaign for Trump while running the scheme. He tweeted about Hillary Clinton’s legal troubles in August and, in October, he headlined a “Millenials for Trump” rally at Georgia State University with former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. During the rally, he played a game with the audience mocking Clinton, called “jail or White House?” Politico reported.
Lambert and members of the group later attended Trump’s invite-only election night party at the Midtown Hilton in New York.
In February of 2018, the Federal Election Commission began reviewing the group’s finances and sent a letter requesting information that the group was legally acquired to report, The Daily Beast reported. The group blamed Lambert for failing to comply with regulations.
In April, the FEC shut down the group’s committee, though it still operates as a social media group.
4. Lambert’s Co-Conspirator Cooperated With Prosecutors
Lambert’s co-conspirator cooperated with prosecutors after they closed in, Politico reported.
The co-conspirator detailed their scheme, in which they began to acquire clients at the end of 2016. During this time, Lambert left Students for Trump and also departed from Campbell University.
The duo set up phone spoofing services that listed their number in the New York area and created a website for a fake law firm called Pope & Dunn.
“Pope & Dunn have been known as a leading firm for innovation and traditional efficiency for decades,” the site said, listing numerous fake attorneys and their nonexistent credentials.
“Pope” was billed as a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, like President Trump, and NYU Law School.
“He is sought after for his experience with financial and corporate matters due to his ability to mitigate legal scenarios while keeping the growth of his clients’ business a focal point,” the site claimed.
Some of the fake bios were copy and pasted from real lawyers at the prominent New York law firm Cravath, Swain & Moore, The New York Law Journal reported.
Prosecutors say one client drained his retirement account to pay Lambert more than $10,000 for help with a credit reporting agency before Lambert stopped replying to his emails. Prosecutors said the scheme brought in more than $50,000 from clients bilked by Lambert.
5. Lambert Faces Up to 21 Months in Prison After Pleading Guilty
Lambert was arrested in Tennessee in April. He was arraigned in New York and charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
On August 6, he pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud conspiracy. He agreed not to appeal any sentence that is 21 months or less and will forfeit $46,654.
“John Lambert represented himself to clients as a prominent New York attorney with a law degree from an elite law school. But Lambert’s de facto career was one of a grifter: he had never been to law school and certainly wasn’t an attorney. Today, Lambert admitted to his crimes and faces time in prison for his misdeeds,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.