He wasn’t a lawyer, but David E. Scher knew his way around a courtroom.
He sued the City of Boston and the City of Newton. He sued the people who rented his condominium and the bank that held the mortgage. He sued a Brighton condo board over election improprieties when he failed to win a seat. And when his parents backed out on a promise to sell him the family boat, he sued them, too, citing e-mails in which they’d called him a “hyena” and a “sleaze ball.”
The sheer breadth of his lawsuits cost the people who came into Scher’s circle countless days and dollars. But only after word of his most recent alleged scheme spread did those left in his wake begin to realize that the man who made their lives miserable had done the same thing to so many others.
When a 2014 larceny conviction threatened to cost him the Suffolk University Law School diploma he’d nearly earned, prosecutors say, Scher allegedly removed the verdict slip from his own case file and then replaced it with a doctored copy indicating he’d been found not guilty.
Scher is now awaiting trial on forgery, perjury, and other charges, after the doctored verdict slip allegedly was used to his advantage in a variety of legal matters. At a pretrial hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors said a grand jury has indicted Scher on two more charges.
Scher — a real estate broker once honored by the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors as one of the top 30 Realtors under age 30 — now could face up to 20 years in state prison.
Approached by a reporter following Wednesday’s court appearance, Scher covered his face with papers and hurried away. The lawyer who represented him, Richard Doyle Jr., declined to comment.
“The impression that I had was that this wasn’t an honest guy,” said Dan Pulvere, a lawyer who represented members of the Sutherland Village condo board in a protracted legal battle in which Scher represented himself. “I found his tactics really distasteful and dishonest.”
Pulvere, now retired, said he was in court constantly answering Scher’s motions, which Pulvere nearly always won.
“It was great fees for me for a while — sadly,” Pulvere said. “You’d rather be doing something more productive with your time.”
The case was eventually settled, Pulvere said, with Scher receiving nothing more than a promise that the association wouldn’t later sue Scher back.
Others did not get away so easily. In 2012, Scher sued the trustee owners of a West Roxbury home after his attempt to buy the house fell through. The trustee, an 85-year-old man with failing vision, said in an affidavit that Scher and the trustee’s nephew had mislead him into signing a purchase and sale agreement, telling him it was for $300,000 when in fact it was for $130,000. When the trustee, who has since died, concluded he’d been duped, he called a lawyer.
“There wasn’t sufficient evidence to warrant him being charged with a crime at that time,” said Barry Greene, a lawyer who joined the case later on behalf of another trustee. Eventually, the suit was settled with an agreement that the house would be put on the market and Scher would get $36,000 of the proceeds.
“The only thing I regret is that the guy got any money at all,” said Greene. “I didn’t think the guy was entitled to 8 cents.”
A Suffolk University Law School spokesman said student confidentiality prevented him from discussing Scher or his time at the school. Court records suggest that his academic career was put on hold after the 2014 conviction for stealing a laptop from a campus locker.
“It’s concerning to me on a number of different levels, that somebody at a law school would do such a heinous thing,” Greene said. “What the hell kind of integrity does someone have to be in the last year of law school and steal a laptop?”
Greene was one of several lawyers who dealt with Scher who said the notion that he came so close to becoming a lawyer was alarming.
“I just can’t believe that someone like him could be admitted to the bar,” said Sherry William, a California lawyer who had a run-in with Scher in 2010.
Scher, then a real estate broker, had risen to prominence on the back of a 2006 honor from Realtor Magazine, the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors. Scher, then 23, boasted in the article of $9.5 million in sales in 2005.
A spokeswoman said applicants for the 30 Under 30 program must provide proof of their sales, and checks on Scher with the local association turned up no red flags. But the association declined to provide his application for the honor. Because Scher is no longer a member of the Multiple Listing Service Property Information Network, his name no longer comes up in searches, the company’s CEO said.
Scher is also no longer a member of the national or local Realtors Association, spokespeople said. And though a state website this week listed his real estate brokers license, and that of the brokerage he founded, First Step Realty, as active, First Step’s website and Scher’s LinkedIn profile had been deactivated.
William, who found First Step online when she was moving to Boston for a fellowship, said her dealings with Scher were initially routine. She liked an apartment he’d listed, so she signed a lease and sent him a check.
But when she got to Boston, William learned that Scher had never given her down payment to the landlord of the apartment she’d rented, court records show. Suddenly, she was without a place to live.
She found another apartment, but when she arrived at Scher’s office in search of a check for the difference between the rent she’d signed up for with Scher and the higher rent she’d agreed to at the replacement apartment, he screamed at her, she said in an interview.
The next day, she said, she filed a case against him in small claims court. At the clerk’s office in Brighton, where Scher has filed several lawsuits and been a party in 10 court actions, the clerk “just started shaking her head: Not David Scher again,” according to William.
The amount of time she spent on the matter was not worth the money she eventually recovered, William said. But she said it was worth it.
“He clearly used the legal system to push people around and take advantage of them,” William said, “and I wanted him to think twice about ever treating someone like that again.”
Six years later, she may have finally gotten her wish.