By DEUCE NIVEN
A disbarred attorney was arrested in a Columbus County court Tuesday after allegedly impersonating another lawyer, Clerk of Court Jess Hill said Wednesday.
Nicholas Andrew Stratas, 57, of Leland, was held briefly at the Columbus County Detention Center following his arrest on a charge of criminal contempt, and released after posting a $300,000 bond, Hill said.
Stratas appeared before District Court Judge Fred Gore in traffic court Tuesday, claiming to be an attorney from New Hanover County named James Smith, Hill said.
Court clerks who did not recognized Stratas asked for identification, which Smith said he could not provide.
“When we don’t recognize an attorney, we ask for validation,” Hill said. “It’s very rare that you have someone impersonating an attorney. I’ve never seen it.”
Judge Gore called for a recess, ordered a bailiff to bring Stratas back into the courtroom, and eventually learned who Stratas was from a woman Hill identified as Heather Davis, who had arrived at the courthouse with him.
Stratas began practicing law in Raleigh in 1984, and was disbarred in February after pleading guilty to embezzlement, forgery, obstruction of justice, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charges in Wake County, court documents available on the N.C. State Bar website show.