Twins who swapped roles charged with fraud

ROME Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:10pm EDT

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ROME (Reuters) - An Italian woman who worked as a part-time judge as well as a lawyer was substituted by her identical twin sister in court so she would not lose out on legal fees when she had two simultaneous engagements.

The 54-year-old twins from northern Italy have now been charged with fraud and will go on trial in January, Italy's leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, reported Friday on its website.

One of the twins, identified only as Gabriella, worked primarily as a lawyer but also as an honorary judge, a part-time, paid position that entails helping full-time judges when their case load is heavy.

When Gabriella was called to be a substitute judge she sent her sister twin Patrizia to stand in for her at an existing engagement as a defense lawyer elsewhere in the Milan area.

The problem was that sister Patrizia was not a lawyer like sister Gabriella but charged the clients anyway.

The clients discovered the sister act and are now suing both for damages. Prosecutors have charged both with fraud, the paper said.

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

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