Judge Paul Seeman. Photo: ABC7 News

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Paul David Seeman has been charged with elder financial abuse and was in custody Thursday night on $525,000 bail.

Seeman, 57, has been under investigation by the Berkeley police for many months, according to media reports. He is accused of stealing as much as $1.6 million from his neighbor, Anne Nutting, 97, after her husband, Lee, died in 1999 at age 90. He also allegedly sold her art and other possessions, tried to bar her from her own home, and used her garage to store his 1957 Ford Thunderbird, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Court documents state that Seeman began stealing from Nutting in 1999 after she and her husband were banned from living in their home on Santa Barbara Road in Berkeley because it was deemed to be uninhabitable. The couple were hoarders and the Berkeley Fire Department deemed it unfit during a visit to treat Lee Nutting, 89, for a fall.

At the time, Seeman was an attorney focusing on juvenile law and lived across the street from the couple, court documents state. He offered to help them with their legal troubles.

“The alleged conduct of Judge Seeman is both disturbing and disappointing,” said Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for her office. “His alleged conduct is in no way a reflection of the outstanding caliber of judicial officers serving Alameda County.”

Neighbors of Seeman have expressed shock and surprise at the development. One described him as “a top-notch, stand-up guy,” while another, Anne Nesbet, said: “Paul is a saint in this. I’m absolutely, 1,000% sure that Paul is on the side of the angels.”

Seeman, a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, was named to the bench by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009.

View the the complaint filed by the District Attorney.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...