‘Tiger King’: Lawyer for Carole Baskin’s missing husband says client’s signatures forged

An attorney for the missing husband of “Tiger King” star Carole Baskin said he believes that the signature of his former client on a document essentially giving Baskin all his money is a forgery.

“I believe it was traced,” lawyer Joseph Fritz, former attorney and friend to Don Lewis, told Nancy Grace in an exclusive interview on Fox Nation’s “Crime Stories.”

“Somebody sat at my office and had the pictures and was able to lay one over the other on their cellphone and they are a perfect match,” he continued, noting that typically a person’s signature shows at least a minimum variation.

“If the signature of Don Lewis was traced. Carol Baskin is in a whole world of trouble now,” said Grace.

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Lewis went missing in 1997, after meeting Baskin in 1980 and leaving his wife and children to marry her. His estate, believed to be worth up to $10 million at the time, was left to Baskin and his family was cut out.

Fritz suspects that his former client was murdered. He told Grace in a previous episode of “Crime Stories” that he has reason to believe that Lewis was strangled and thrown out of an airplane over the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, a number of handwriting experts are raising questions over the legitimacy of the documents that controlled his fortune.

Forensic document examiner and handwriting expert Thomas Vastrick told Grace that he reviewed Lewis’ will and power of attorney. According to Vastrick, multiple signatures on those documents are highly suspect.

“In conducting the examination of the durable family power of attorney and the will, both of which were created on Nov. 21 in 1996, I was struck by the uncanny similarity between each set of signatures,” Vastrick said, explaining that he looked at the signatures of Lewis, two witnesses and the notaries.

“It was nearly exact replication… These signatures were traced.”

— Forensic document examiner, Thomas Vastrick

“It was nearly exact replication to the extent that I was very confidently able to opine that what I was dealing with – at least with Mr. Lewis’s signature – that these signatures were traced.”

Vastrick said that in his opinion Lewis’ signature was copied from his marriage license to Baskin, executed five years before the execution of the will.

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“Every time you sign your name, there’s a level of variation from one signature to the next,” he explained, “and these are just way, way too similar. I did not find this a difficult determination at all.”

Fritz said that the critical document, in this case, is the power of attorney.

“[Baskin] managed to move their money and assets and property via the power of attorney, not the will … she had to because he wasn’t declared dead [until] five years later,” argued Fritz.

Finally, Grace observed that one person who claimed to be a witness to the signing of Don Lewis’ will, has apparently changed her tune.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told Grace in a previous episode of “Crime Stories,” that an individual “came forward, said she felt pressured at the time to say that it was signed by everyone.”

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“I’m pretty confident, she says that she felt to prove her allegiance to Carol that she felt pressured into saying that she witnessed those signatures,” he claimed.

“There’s also a second witness and a notary,” added Vastrick. “I’d be interested in what they have to say.”

To watch all of this bombshell episode of “Crime Stories,” and more of Grace’s extensive coverage in the series “A Tiger King Investigation,” go to Fox Nation and sign up today.

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