The well-liked young man was a familiar presence at the District Attorney’s Office after volunteering there for four years. But when he told colleagues he had passed the bar exam and tried to apply for a job as a prosecutor, officials say, one important fact soon became apparent.
He hadn’t even gone to law school.
The man, identified by a source within the District Attorney’s Office as Ilya Movshovich, joined the office in 2003, during the tenure of former District Attorney Terence Hallinan, according to the source. Movshovich was still there when Kamala Harris took over in 2004, and he even participated in the summer law clerk program in 2005, for which he was paid $2,000, office spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh said.
“By all accounts, everyone really liked him and he did good work,” Mesloh said.
Movshovich, 26, told his colleagues he was attending law school at the University of San Francisco, Mesloh said. “We require that all law clerk interns get certified through the bar association, meaning they are attending an accredited law school,” Mesloh said. Movshovich provided some documents to fulfill that requirement, though it is unclear how they passed muster in the office.
Movshovich recently announced he had passed the bar exam and applied for an entry-level job as a misdemeanor prosecutor, Mesloh said. But that was when things began to fall apart.
On Wednesday, Movshovich interviewed with a recruitment committee made up of top lawyers from the office, which asked for routine documentation such as a law school diploma and proof he had passed the bar exam.
“Over the course of the day, we were asking for the documentation and became concerned something was wrong,” Mesloh said.
By day’s end, Mesloh said, the staff determined that Movshovich had not only not passed the exam, he had not attended USF or any other law school.
The news comes amid the unfolding saga of a woman who pretended to be a Stanford student for nearly a year. Reports surfaced last week that Azia Kim, 18, fooled school officials and fellow students, talking her way into a dormitory and living with a roommate.
Harris called Movshovich’s situation “unfortunate.”
“Lots of people want to work in the DA’s Office, but you have to be qualified to work in the DA’s Office. To be a prosecutor, you have to be educated as a lawyer and you have to be bar-certified,” Harris said.
Mesloh said Movshovich did not work with any individual case files or with sensitive information. “He was in the legal library, more around legal books and penal codes,” she said.
Movshovich won’t face any criminal charges, Mesloh said. “We hope he gets the help that he needs. It’s kind of a sad case.”
Why do people pretend to be someone they’re not?
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