SC disbars lawyer involved in identity theft to get law degree

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SC disbars lawyer involved in identity theft to get law degree
The High Court says Richard Caronan made a mockery of the legal profession by pretending to have the necessary qualifications to be a lawyer

MANILA, Philippines – For stealing the identity of his younger brother, the Supreme Court (SC) disbarred a lawyer who stole his brother’s name “Patrick A. Caronan”.

The real Patrick Caronan filed a complaint against his elder brother, Richard A. Caronan, who posed as “Atty Patrick A. Caronan”.

The case stemmed from a 2013 complaint filed by Patrick against his brother Richard before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Patrick, the complainant, is a year younger than Richard.

Richard also faces possible civil and criminal cases after the High Tribunal found him guilty of falsely using the name, identity, and academic records of Patrick to obtain his law degree and subsequently take the Bar.

He deceived not only his law school, but also the Office of the Bar Confidant, which accepts applications for bar examinations.

In its decision issued Tuesday, July 12, the Supreme Court said Richard made a “mockery of the legal profession by pretending to have the necessary qualifications to be a lawyer. He also tarnished the image of lawyers with his alleged unscrupulous activities, which resulted in the filing of several criminal cases against him.”

He certainly does not have “a place in the legal profession where one of the primary duties of its members is to uphold its integrity and dignity,” the SC added.

Stolen identity

According to case records, the Caronan brothers completed their secondary education at the Makati High School.

Patrick obtained a Business Administration degree from the University of Makati (UM) and worked his way up, eventually becoming store manager of a 7-11 convenience store in Muntinlupa.

His brother Richard enrolled at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) but later transferred to the Philippine Military Academy. He was discharged after a year, in 1993, and focused on helping their father in the family’s car rental business.

In 1997, Richard transferred to Nueva Vizcaya with his wife and 3 children, and never returned to school to obtain a college degree.

Patrick said he learned from his brother during a visit in Metro Manila sometime in 1999 that he had enrolled in a law school in Nueva Vizcaya. Five years after, he found out from his mother that Richard passed the Bar exams, using his (Patrick’s) name and college records from the UM to enroll at St Mary’s University’s College of Law in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.

Patrick let this pass, not realizing the consequences of his identity being stolen by his brother Richard.


After he was promoted store manager in 2009, Patrick was ordered to report to the head office of Philippine Seven Corporation (PSC), the operator of 7-11 Convenience Stores, in Mandaluyong City. There he was told that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) wanted his physical presence in relation to its probe into a certain “Atty Patrick A. Caronan” for qualified theft and estafa.

Patrick then disclosed that his brother Richard had been using his name, and that he was the real “Patrick A. Caronan”. 

Richard was later arrested for gun-running activities, illegal possession of explosives, and violation of BP 22, or the bouncing checks law. At this point, Patrick started to worry about his own safety and security, and became the subject of talk among colleagues. He ended up resigning from PSC.

Circumstances led him to file a complaint against his own brother to stop him from using his name and identity and illegally practicing law.

Richard Caronan tried to defend himself, saying that his identity could no longer be raised as an issue as it had already been resolved in an earlier administrative case declared closed and terminated by the High Court. This was dismissed by the SC on grounds that Patrick was able to present clear and overwhelming evidence about his own identity.

The SC directed the Office of the Court Administrator to circulate in all courts nationwide a photograph of Richard with his real name “Richard A. Caronan” and a warning of his false assumption of the name and identity of “Patrick A. Caronan.” 

“Good moral character is essential in those who would be lawyers. This is imperative in the nature of the office of a lawyer, the trust relation which exists between him and his client, as well as between him and the court,” the High Court said. –


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