Woman accused of posing as Las Vegas attorney to be released

Woman accused of posing as Las Vegas attorney to be released

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A woman accused of posing as an attorney and forging judges’ signatures is expected to be released from jail.

Senior visiting Judge James Bixler ordered that Cenia Poulsen, 36, could be released on her own recognizance, meaning she will not have to post any bail money.

Las Vegas Metro police arrested Poulsen on Tuesday at a law office where she was working as a paralegal after a nearly six-month investigation. Poulsen was never a licensed attorney in Nevada.

Poulsen faces 17 felony charges, including theft, forgery, and swindling. Police said she posed as an attorney at least Jan. 2022, created fake documents for divorce and adoption cases, and forged at least three judges’ signatures in the Eighth Judicial Court.

She is also accused of stealing money from a law firm where she previously worked and creating a fake story about a sick relative and family death to borrow money from a former co-worker.

“This is so disgusting, what she is charged with,” Bixler said. “It is hard to swallow, but at the same time, you got to use a reasonable analysis for detention.”

Bixler pointed to how the allegations are not of a violent nature and that she has no known criminal history.

“The way Nevada law has morphed into a different perspective when it comes to setting bail and addressing custody status,” Bixler said.

Because of Valdez-Jimenez versus Eighth Judicial Court, a case decided in 2020, judges should consider two main factors when setting bail: whether the defendant would be a danger to the community and whether they will show up in court.

Conditions of Poulsen’s release from jail include high-level electronic monitoring, not being allowed to work in the field of law in any capacity whatsoever, and being prohibited from contacting victims identified in her case.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Colleen Baharav had argued for a $250,000 bail and mentioned concerns that Poulsen contacted alleged victims after police had contacted her during their investigation.

“The state cannot fathom any sort of bail condition and/or bail amount that will preclude this woman from continuing to lie to not only her family and friends but the people who relied upon her for these services,” Baharav said.

As 8 News Now Investigators previously reported, in some cases, individuals had believed they were legally divorced and later learned that they were not due to Poulsen’s alleged scams.

Defense attorney Daniel Lippman had argued for Poulsen to be released on her own recognizance.

“She is not running from this. She is not a flight risk,” Lippman said. “She has lived in Las Vegas for 20-plus years. She is married. She has two children.”

8 News Now Investigators previously reported that Poulsen’s husband is a Las Vegas Metro police officer.

In one incident, Poulsen is accused of using the death of the late Judge Melanie Tobiasson as an excuse for delayed paperwork. Tobiasson died by suicide in January of 2023. She had previously resigned after an ethics probe. This allegation prompted Las Vegas Justice Court Judge Amy Chelini to recuse herself from the case on Wednesday.

“There’s a lot of cases that come before me that I find to be offensive, and I get past it, but there’s somebody that she references in this case that was a colleague of mine and uses that colleague’s death as an excuse for a continuance to commit fraud upon on another person,” Chelini said.

Poulsen is scheduled to appear back in court on Feb. 15.

Metro police ask anyone who may have had legal work processed by Poulsen to call (702) 828-3251.

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